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Defining Zero Waste Living: What Are the 5 Rs to Live By

Defining Zero Waste Living - What Are the 5 Rs to Live By

The zero waste movement has gained much traction in the past few years. More and more people are becoming aware of the damaging effects of our throw-away culture and are looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment. 

We've all heard the term "zero waste" before, but what does it actually mean? The basic definition of zero waste is to send nothing to a landfill. That means recycling everything you can, composting what you can't recycle, and finding other ways to reuse items instead of throwing them away. 

While that may seem daunting, you can make many small changes in your everyday life that can help you reduce your waste. One way to manage our waste is to follow the 5 Rs of zero waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. Here's how you can apply them to your life.

Refuse Waste

The first R is to refuse what you don't need. That means saying no to single-use items like plastic straws, disposable coffee cups, and plastic bags. It also means being mindful of what you need and only buying what you will actually use.

Some of the items that we can refuse include:

  • Single-use plastic items: These include things such as plastic bags, straws, coffee cup lids, and water bottles. 
  • Unnecessary packaging: This can include items such as plastic wraps, food packaging, and product packaging. 
  • Disposable items: These include items such as paper towels, napkins, and coffee cups. 

By refusing these items, we can help reduce the amount of waste in landfill. 

Reduce Your Waste

The second R is to reduce what you do need. That means buying items in bulk, choosing products with less packaging, and avoiding single-use items. Here's how you can apply it to your lifestyle:

  • Bring your reusable shopping bags: Say no to plastic bags and bring your reusable bags with you when you go shopping.
  • Bring your reusable water bottle: Ditch the disposable water bottles and invest in a good quality reusable water bottle. 
  • Use reusable produce bags: Did you know that most grocery stores have reusable produce bags that you can use? Ditch the plastic produce bags and start using reusable ones instead.
  • Bring your reusable coffee mug: If you're a coffee lover, bring your reusable mug to get your fix. That will save you money and reduce the amount of paper or plastic waste from disposable coffee cups.


Once you've reduced the amount of stuff you consume, the next step is to find ways to reuse the things you have. That could mean using a reusable shopping bag or repurposing an old item into something new. Or, it could mean repurposing an old shirt into a new pair of shorts. 


The fourth R is to recycle what you can't refuse, reduce, or reuse. It means sorting your trash and recycling items that can be recycled. Use external recycling facilities that accept hard to recycle items, such as batteries, light bulbs and electronics, that cannot be recycled by your council collection program. Visit Planet Ark's Recycling website to find what items can be recycled.


The fifth R is to rot or compost what you can't recycle. This means putting food scraps and other organic materials in a compost bin instead of the garbage. Composting food scraps provides you with nutrient rich fertiliser for your garden and it also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by landfill.


While it can be challenging to change long-standing habits, many people find that living zero waste helps them to save money, reduce their environmental impact, and live a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. Zero-waste living is about all of these things. It's about finding new ways to reduce your environmental impact and live more sustainably. By following the 5 Rs of zero waste, you can significantly reduce your environmental impact.

At The Living Co, we offer earth-friendly products that help you reduce your ecological footprint. Shop with us for premium, low-waste items like organic food, natural cleaning supplies, and sustainable homewares. Our selection of plastic-free items is perfect for those looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle.


Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash


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