The day I began eliminating trash from my home was also the day my life changed – and trust me, I’m not exaggerating.
We all know that Zero Waste is good for the environment. The less rubbish you produce, the less junk gets sent to landfills, the less harmful gases are emitted, the fewer pollutants roam the ocean. But, as an average citizen of your country, you won’t see those changes the minute you switch to the Zero Waste lifestyle.
It’s All About Visibility
The very first manifestation of the entire transition was in my bank account. Since I started buying less mass produced products and invested in reusable items instead, I was able to save a magnificent amount enough to buy myself a new bookshelf at home.
The second sign Zero Waste was going me good was when my home looked significantly neater than it did when I was indulging plastic products. I now have drawers filled with glass jars and steel containers that organise my produce in an aesthetically pleasing way. Because of that, yes, my apartment is now also more Instagram-worthy.
The third is my health.
Let’s Start with the Bigger Picture
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of it all, let’s begin with something very simple: rubbish is a real threat to your body.
More than just an eyesore, rubbish piles emit gases such as ammonia an sulfides, both of which cause short-term to long-term health effects such as migraines, insomnia, lung irritation and severe chest pain. They also contaminate our water, making filtration a bit more challenging for drinking water. Lastly, our landfills emit an enormous amount of greenhouse gasses including carbon dioxide and methane.
Although these are what happens way after you throw out your rubbish, what happens when you begin at home?
Say No to Plastic
Of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic that the world has produced, more than 75% of that has become plastic waste. And from that waste, only 9% was recycled. So that means the vast majority of plastic rubbish is still somewhere out there in the world, be it in the landfills or floating in the ocean.
Many people aren’t aware of how detrimental plastic can be to your health. Chewing on plastic teethers and toys made of plastic as well as reheating plastic food containers were reportedly linked with severe adverse health outcomes such as developmental failures, endocrine disruption, impaired immunity, birth defects and cancers.
Although I can’t honestly say I’ve dodged all risks to grave illnesses, I know that I’ve been pretty much doctor-free for the past six years of my life (not including routine check-ups for employment purposes). I haven’t had anything close to a bad cold since 2003 – which was a bit surprising for my mum given I grew up pretty much attached to a mist inhaler my entire childhood.
Zero Waste Fitness
This is where it gets really obvious.
As a Zero Waster, I do most of my grocery shopping at farmer’s markets, organic food bazaars, bulk stores and food co-operatives. This also means I eat fresh, whole foods that are completely packaging-free. My predominantly vegetarian diet has also done me wonders by lowering my blood sugar levels, giving me confidence that I won’t get diabetes scares the next time I visit the doctor.
Ever since I became more environmentally conscious, I would also walk and bike more to work. I lost about thirty pounds since I began the Zero Waste Lifestyle and can now wear the clothes that I kept for years in my closet because I swore I’d fit into them again.
Basically, with a Zero Waste lifestyle, you’re forced to take care of your body. I make it sound like a chore, but it is definitely one of the things that motivate me to do it to this day.
A Magazine Model in the Making – Maybe
I don’t mean to brag, but I no longer know what a pimple looks like.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I do know how annoying zits are and how tempting it is to pop them. But since I only get them around once or twice a year now, I no longer have to worry about them so much.
Many skincare and cosmetic products are packaged in plastic containers. They also contain chemicals I can’t pronounce, most of which I’m sure my grandmother would never let me put on my face. When I stopped buying my vanity items from drugstores and high-end makeup brands, my skin got way clearer. I now do oil-cleansing and walk around pretty much makeup-free.
Rome wasn’t built in a day – it’s definitely not realistic to go from waste-heavy to absolutely zero rubbish overnight. Be sure to take your time adapting to the lifestyle by starting with the basics. Your body will thank you for it.