Greener Lifestyle -sachi shiksha

Zero Waste Living – Small Steps to a Greener Lifestyle

Introduction: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children”, is a native American proverb which beautifully highlights the responsibility of humans to take care of the planet they live in.

Sustainable development, which means that the needs of the present generation are met, without compromising the ability of the future to meet their needs must be implemented in all areas of our lives to achieve the above goal. The research shows that world has already lost 80% of its forests, 27% of coral reefs and the increasing sea levels are soon going to swallow the land masses.

The studies have also found that we are using up 50% more natural resources than the earth can provide for, and at the current population levels, we would need 1.5 earths, which we do not have. It has also been discovered that a garbage island, the size of India, Europe and Mexico combined, made mostly of plastics is floating in our oceans.

These alarming facts are the wake-up call for all of us to live our lives in an environment friendly manner. The concept of Zero Waste was introduced in 1970’s by Paul Palmer and 5 R’s guide it. We humans generate a lot of waste in our day-to-day activities, the goal of zero waste living is to send nothing to landfills or oceans and reuse or recycle everything. Let’s take a look at the various ways through which we can achieve zero waste living and do our job of responsibly taking care of mother nature.

The 5 R`s:

To begin with the good old 3R’s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and two new R’s Refuse and Rot must be understood and implemented. Reduce means to minimise the amount the waste we generate, reuse asks us to use items more than once, recycle means converting waste into useable materials, refuse means not to buy or accept any materials that harm the environment, rot means creating valuable resources from organic waste by composting.

Change begins at home and all the 5R’s must be first implemented in our households.  Waste generated in the kitchen can be used to make compost which can be used as manure for home garden or generate biogas, which can be later used for cooking. Collecting plastic bottles, polythene bags and newspapers and donating them to recycle centres, which turn them into reusable goods and upcycling plastic bottles into gardening pots are very small yet efficient ways of reusing and recycling the waste we generate.

Prefer Energy Efficient Appliances & Ecofriendly Mode of Transport:

Now focusing on the waste, we cannot see, the greenhouse gases released from our air conditioners and refrigerators, are the leading cause of global warming. Opting for energy efficient appliances and basically, reducing the usage of such appliances will decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. Preferring eco-friendly modes of transport, or the public transport will reduce pollution, in turn following the principle of reduce in the 5R’s.

Donate Your Discarded Clothes to the Needy:

It is important to note that disposal of clothing is a major contributor in the landfills. In today’s time, where the fashion trend keeps changing every six months, the amount of discarded clothing is shocking. Repurposing the clothing or even donating them to those in need, would be a far better use of the resources. A few more eco-friendly choices can be switching to organic cleansers for the home, avoiding single use plastic, especially during travelling, using cloth bags and using cloth napkins instead of paper towels. As our grandparents have been telling us, opt for repairing the appliances as much as possible, rather than replacing them. This way we can save money and environment.

Disposing off Tea Bags & Worn-out Tires:

Another important aspect, which goes unnoticed is the consumption of meat and the associated waste that is generated. Be mindful of the consumption of meat. Even the tea bags are loaded with micro plastics that are harmful to both us and the environment, opting for loose leaf tea would be the solution here. For all the vehicle owners out there, disposing off your old worn-out tires must be done with caution. Recyclers will be more than happy to accept them, and it can also be repurposed to be a tree-swing for the kids in the backyard.

Issuing E-bills:

In these advanced times, where almost everyone has a mobile or laptop and an internet connection, digital modes of storing, sharing and communication must be encouraged. Large offices, must opt for cloud storage to cut on the paper usage, issuing of e-bills instead of the traditional ones and online coupons in the place of physical ones can save a ton of trees and help in keeping the planet a little greener. However, it is to be kept in mind that while we are opting to go digital, the amount of electricity we consume and the carbon footprint we leave behind must be consciously noted and reduced.

(Picture showing sources of renewable energy – solar panels and windmills)

In the topic of sustainable energy, switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the need of the hour. Fossil fuels are limited and produce a lot of pollution and waste when consumed. On the other hand, renewable energy, such as solar power and wind energy should be preferred as they are both unlimited and do not produce any harmful waste. Gadgets & appliances that can run on solar power are being introduced in the market and wherever possible, we should make use of the sustainable energy sources. Solar battery powered vehicles, wind turbines that generate electricity to power an entire city are being installed in various parts of the world and we must support such projects locally.


“It`s just one plastic straw, said a billion people”, this quote depicts how the smallest of action when done by a huge population has tremendous effect on the environment. The positive side of this is, when the smallest act of saving the environment, such as opting for steel straw, walking for short distances can save the planet in miraculous ways. So go ahead, do your part and encourage others to take care of the earth as well.


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