We know we’re in trouble when we see figures like these – almost 40,000 tonnes of waste is produced DAILY in Malaysia – and the authorities are struggling to contain this. What can we do about this? Simple – adopt a zero waste lifestyle.
In 2016, Kuala Lumpur was producing 3,500 tonnes of domestic and industrial waste daily and the city council was spending RM325 million annually on waste management and cleaning. Malaysia also had the dubious honour of being the 8th worst country in the world for plastic waste; and considering we are a relatively small country, this is really unacceptable.
We can and must all make the effort to change the way we consume because if we don’t, the future doesn’t look very bright at all. Our seas are polluted, global warming, wildlife diminishing, quality of soil and air deteriorating and all this leads to future generations having to live in a world where everything from the food chain to the air they breathe being drastically affected. The basic definition of zero waste is to eliminate waste in a practical way and reuse, reduce, recycle and rot (compost); or just create as little rubbish as possible.
Here are 10 simple (really!) tips to get the ball rolling:
- Refuse all disposable plastic like bags, cutlery, bottles, cups and straws
- Carry your own shopping bags, water bottle, coffee mug and food containers (for takeaways)
- Get bamboo or steel straws and bring them with you when you eat out and remember to ask your server not to give you a straw. You can buy reusable straws at The Hive
- Repurpose and upcycle what you already have in your home e.g. cut old towels into cleaning rags, use empty jars instead of buying new ones
- Learn how to compost. This is easier if you have a garden but apartment dwellers can do it on a smaller scale and the end product is just what your plants need. This will easily reduce your household waste by up to 30%
- Change the way you eat – bring a packed lunch to work, eat less fast food and more home cooked meals and buy local produce from the markets
- Go paperless and opt for e-billing, reduce printing, use a good old-fashioned handkerchief instead of tissue
- Declutter your home and only keep / buy what is necessary. Donate or sell what you don’t need or want anymore. Buy second-hand, accept hand-me-downs especially toys and kids’ clothes
- Always have a list when you shop and stick to it so as to avoid buying anything you don’t actually need
- Buy in bulk. This not only saves money as you only get the amount you need but as there’s no packaging, the price is cheaper. At the moment, The Hive is the only store offering wholesome food and pantry staples in bulk and they deliver nationwide
For more inspiration, read Zero Waste Home by zero waste lifestyle pioneer, Bea Johnson, available at all major bookshops. This is the woman who fit a year’s worth of her family’s rubbish in a pint-sized jar – the rest was composted, recycled and given away.
Going zero waste is a process and takes time. If you can do just five things on the list, that’s an excellent start. Teach your children too so that they realise that even they make a difference. In time you’ll notice that it really is that easy and if we all make a little effort, the consequences will be life-changing, not just for us now, but for everything that exists on this planet in the future.
Header image credit: Homemade Deliciousness