[GUEST BLOG] A Life Lived Simply

A life lived simply. Most people are overwhelmed by the idea of a zero waste lifestyle and feel it is unachievable.  In a sense, they are right. Most of us will never achieve a zero waste lifestyle, and even as we do our best, and buy unpackaged goods, there is packaging along the production line. But by choosing to buy unpackaged goods we are voting with our wallets and letting retailers know that we do not want packaging, and forcing them to work on their footprint.

Life Lived Simply

The lifestyle is about rethinking what we purchase, how we make these purchases and the impact of our actions.  The 5 Rs – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot – only in that order, is the mantra that Bea Johnson, Zero Waste author lives by.

  • Refuse: say no to plastic bags or single-use packaging such as coffee cups. Take your own containers and bags to weigh your fruit, meat, etc.
  • Reduce: stop shopping so much. Don’t shop spontaneously, but rather buy what you need, ideally second hand and buy quality.
  • Reuse: reuse bottles, jars and containers, paper and egg cartons. Look at things with fresh eyes and you could find uses for them.
  • Recycle: get a good system in place to store your recyclables; this doesn’t need to take lots of space either.
  • Rot: use a traditional compost heap, wormery, or indoor composter to rot down your food waste.

If you are considering making changes towards living the Zero Waste lifestyle, just take one step at a time and do what works for you and your family.  Make choices that are sustainable for you and those you share your home with.  If it becomes a chore and you start feeling like you are making too many sacrifices, you will no doubt end up giving up and going back to more wasteful ways.

Groceries and cleaning products are a huge source of waste, as well as all the single-use packets we use to carry them.  The first step is to switch to reusable shopping bags.  If you only do one thing then do that. Choose unpackaged groceries as often as you can.  If you reduce your consumption of processed food, you will be healthier and save money.

The easiest thing to do is pick one thing you will change in your lifestyle, and once you have adapted to that, pick another.  No point being overwhelmed by too much change and then giving up out of frustration.  Try not to let the actions of those around you discourage you; stay positive and let people see the change in you.  There is little point in walking into a shop and becoming annoyed by the amount of plastic packaging, and frustrated with tellers and shop owners who might not understand why you do not want packaging.  We need to remember that unfortunately the vast majority do not understand the problem with single-use packaging. It is a long process for shops to change their ways, we cannot expect them to change overnight. If we are patient and kind in our interactions, this will impact people a whole lot more.  We need to educate each other with love, patience and respect!

For more information you can have a look at Zero Waste to Landfill South Africa or A Life Lived Simply on Facebook. These are great places to share ideas and motivate each other.


Written by Colleen Black: Blogger, Life Lived Simply