Stepping towards a zero-waste lifestyle is hard work. And it definitely does not happen overnight. There is a lot of research that talks about how long it takes for a new habit to become part of your regular behaviour. Many of us have read about ‘21-days to form a new habit’ theory, but really for me it comes down to two things — ease of adopting a new habit and resolve to persevere and see the change through.
Those who have thought of their waste created as excessive and wanting to downsize on their garbage footprint have probably already started segregating their waste at home — if it is not already been mandated in your city by the local corporation — or at least starting to compost their kitchen waste. While these are all small steps towards going zero waste, there is a lot more that can be done at home, in your office and especially when you are travelling.
Once the resolve to go zero-waste is in place, it is important for you to feel easy in order for it to become a new habit that can be adhered to. For you to feel easy, arm yourself with all the right tools so that we don’t necessarily slip towards the convenient option — which will invariably involve plastic. For example, not carrying around your own metal or glass bottle of water means that when you are thirsty, you will revert to buying a bottle of water and then dispose it of in a way that may not be recycled, or even worse, litter it in a public place for ‘someone else’ to clean up. This is a huge problem for the environment because the embodied energy of that small plastic bottle is already huge — it had to be produced, packaged and transported to get to you and now that it has lived out its short single-use life it will have to be sorted, transported to the recycler and then recycled into some new avatar. Whatever said about the ease of use, when put into perspective, all of this for a fairly simple drink of water is excessive.
In order to make all of this easy to adopt and adapt to, there is a first investment involved. Start with one aspect of life and go zero-waste there — for today, let’s tackle eating and drinking out. There are a few basics that you will need to arm yourself with in order to ease into this practice. The first, of course, is a bottle of water as already discussed — whether metal or glass is up to you. Personally, I prefer metal as it is harder while being moved around.
The second is reusable cutlery — bamboo spoon, fork and even a knife if required. The next is a cloth napkin that can be used in lieu of tissue. Finally, of course is a cup with a lid for drinking on the go or a catch-all container that could be for food or for drinking out of. So, go ahead and pack a separate cloth bag with these items so you can adopt a zero-waste life when it comes to eating and drinking on the go. It does not happen in a day and in one shot — baby steps will get you there. Live life zero.
The writer is an architect,urban designer, dancer and chief designer at Shilpa Architects