Zero Waste Lifestyle – Small Steps in Helping Nature While Studying Overseas

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest;

it is the one thing all of us share.”

– Lady Bird Johnson

No matter what we do every day – preparing a breakfast, going to the supermarket for the daily necessities, shopping to buy clothes, taking out fast-food for lunch or having a fancy dinner outside with our loved ones – we are bound to generate waste that will end up in the trash.

The types of waste that usually end up in landfills are usually plastic, paper, food scraps, glass, and even metals. However, not all waste ends up in landfills. Some of it find it way to rivers, oceans, and other places where it eventually affects wildlife.

Green painted hand holding a plant

The aim of the Zero Waste lifestyle is, as the name implies, to have no waste that will end up in landfills, incinerators, or in the natural habitats of wildlife. Although the Zero Waste lifestyle sounds complicated, it isn’t something that should happen overnight. Instead it should be slowly implemented into your lifestyle in order for you not to be overwhelmed. With this in mind, we will share 7 tips with you that can help you to slowly go zero waste.

Green tree tops in a forest

1. Always Bring an Eco-Bag

Admit it, wherever you go be it the supermarket or mall, you will always end up buying items covered in plastic. Sometimes multiple layers of plastic. One simple way to reduce plastic waste is to always bring an eco-bag where you can place all of your purchases.

Eco-bag hanging from a coat rack

2. Buy Fresh Produce at the Market

Fresh produce at supermarkets is usually excessively covered in plastic, so it would be much better if you purchase your fruits and vegetables at the market. Not only is it cheaper to buy fresh produce at the market, the greens are usually fresher due to direct flow of goods from the farm. Also, you will help the small time vendors by supporting their business.

Apples in a box at a market

3. Bring Your Own Water Bottle

If you are thirsty, chances are that you will end up buying water which is almost always in a PET bottle. By bringing your own bottle, you will reduce the plastic waste that is thrown into the trash can while at the same time saving money by refilling the bottle at school or work. Tap water in Finland is safe to drink and is actually among the highest quality in the world which makes buying bottled water unnecessary.

4. Pack Your Lunch

If you love to cook and have spare time, cooking your lunch will give you more control on what kind of food you eat. There are many other benefits, such as reducing the cost of your meals and avoiding the queues that inevitably form at lunch hour. This helps the environment by evading all the disposables that are used in fast food.

Packed lunch of broccoli, chicken and rice

5. Refuse Plastic Straws

Plastic straws are one of the most ubiquitous yet underrated forms of plastic waste. Although they are convenient, the combination of plastic straws being disposable and hard to repurpose makes them difficult to recycle. By simply refusing plastic straws every time you eat out, it will result in one piece less of waste that ends up in landfills. As an alternative, there are now easily available metal, glass, and bamboo straws for sale in specialty stores or online.

Hand holding a purple smoothie in a glass with a straw

6. Bring Your Own Utensils

Disposable utensils are another common plastic waste. Many fast food outlets prefer them since reusable utensils need to be washed frequently and their customers tend to take-out instead of dining in. In other cases, while reusable utensils are available, many people opt for disposable utensils because of suspicion about the cleanliness of reusable utensils. By bringing your own reusable utensil, you will save countless pairs of plastic spoons and forks from ending in the trash.

Group of young people sitting in a living room

7. Go Composting

If you are into gardening, this one is for you. Instead of throwing your kitchen waste into the trash can, you can instead make a compost bin to create your own compost. You can also throw in your gardening waste such as dried leaves and trimmings. Not only you will reduce your green waste going to landfills but you will also reduce the need for fertilizers.

Although going zero waste to protect nature is not easy, it is feasible. Through analyzing your lifestyle and knowing what kinds of waste that you usually generate, you will be able to identify the types of waste that you should reduce, recycle, and find alternatives for.

Pieces of brown cardboard with the words reuse and reduce
Recycle and reduce trash.

The tips we have given are just some of the easy ways one can change in their lifestyle. If more of us took the effort to reduce our waste, it would be a huge step forward in protecting nature. Remember that going Zero Waste does not happen overnight, it should be a slow process of improving your lifestyle.

More than 70% of Finland is covered in forest so preserving the nature and wildlife is important for Finns.

If you want to read more about Finnish forests, take a look at this blog post:  Into the Forest I Go: A Finnish Documentary

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