Practise zero waste to save money and the environment

A zero waste lifestyle benefits the future generation. (rawpixel.com pic)

You should consider entering the zero waste world for its money-saving potential. The communities are helpful, warm and encouraging.

You will have fun trying out new lifestyle changes inspired by members of the zero waste community, sustainable living community, low impact community and so on.

They will encourage you to:

  • Include more plants and grains in your diet
  • Use a menstrual cup
  • Carry a reusable water bottle when going out
  • Stay car-free
  • Keep used coffee grounds as fertiliser
  • Significantly reduce your shopping
  • Quit cigarettes

All of which will save you a ton of money. This video is a good introduction to zero waste living on a budget.

The plastic-free part of a zero-waste lifestyle

So by this point, you think you will do okay with this zero-waste lifestyle thing. But there is this one part that is hard to do. The plastic-free part of the zero-waste lifestyle.

Most people are, at best, meh about the whole ‘create less plastic waste’ and ‘save the environment’ aspect of the zero-waste lifestyle. Plastic is, after all, cheap.

Your priority is saving money. You don’t really want to commit to a plastic-free lifestyle if it’s going to add more cost and trouble into your life.

But at the same time, you also want to do good for the environment. Especially now that the no-plastic awareness campaigns are in full blast.

You may have seen the dead sea creatures with plastic-filled stomachs. Read about microplastics in the marine life we consume. Watched fishes get stuck in single-use plastic bags.

You have been so spoiled by the convenience and cost of plastic that you find it hard to live a plastic-free life.

Even after you know how damaging plastic is, you still buy fruits and vegetables packed in plastic. You still buy bubble tea sold in single-use cups. Sometimes you forget to bring your reusable bag for the groceries and just pay the 20 sen.

You do make some effort and some lifestyle changes here and there, yes, but you don’t know if you even deserve the ‘I tried’ gold star.

Be a zero waste superhero for both your wallet and the planet. (rawpixel.com pic)

Zero Waste Malaysia as a resource

Yeah, it’s hard, but don’t say you’re giving up. It’s slow progress but it’s progress.

The Zero Waste Malaysia Facebook group is a great resource in this journey. You will be blown away by the quality of its content.

You are highly encourage to join if you’re interested in the zero-waste, plastic-free lifestyle.

Some of the highlights include:

• How to shop without using plastic bags (bring your own bags) and order food without single-use plastics (bring your own containers)

• Attempts and recommendations to reduce, reuse, recycle and upcycle

• Zero waste-related workshops, seminars, public talks, events and fairs

• How other countries create and implement unique solutions

• Things that aren’t often shared in the media, like what plastic pollution looks like in real life

You will be super impressed by Zero Waste Malaysia‘s Zero Waste Resources map. Look at all the zero waste options available. In the map, you can find:

  • Bulk food
  • Community compost/garden
  • Furry friends’ corner
  • Household products
  • Personal care products
  • Repair services
  • Sustainable businesses and services
  • Thrift shops
  • Traditional wet markets, and
  • Recycling, upcycling and waste disposal centres

Click on the map to find zero waste options near you. You can add your recommendations or your sustainable business in the map too.

Making a plastic-free lifestyle more affordable

If you are primarily motivated by savings, then although you would love to save the environment, you don’t want to pay like triple the usual price for plastic-free equivalents of the things that you need.

Many people are in the same boat – it’s important for us to balance costs while we do the right thing, because times are tough.

You can make a plan on how to embrace a plastic-free lifestyle so it doesn’t cost too much:

• Use a product’s plastic packaging as an excuse to not buy something.

• Resist zero-waste products that you don’t really need. For example, you don’t need metal straws. Or special product bags, since you probably have lots of tote bags or old t-shirts that you can turn into bags.

• Slowly move away from conventional household and personal care products. This is a hard one, perhaps the hardest.

• Have you ever tried non-plastic toothbrushes? It’s so easy to restock at the supermarket rather than making separate trips to Hive or the Bring Your Own Bottle shop.

• Start going to wet markets with your own containers. Also a toughie as it requires separate trips.

• Hype-up zero waste in your own capacity so that there will be more zero waste businesses. If you’re thinking of a business to start, you should know that there is demand, and it is growing.

Resources for your zero-waste and sustainable living

List of impact-driven enterprises at MaGIC website:

  1. #zerowastemalaysia hashtag on Instagram to see the types of products and services in the market

2. Talks and workshops on upcycling and circular economy – Malaysia Nature Society, Me.reka Makerspace

3. Look up Bluebee Technology, FatHopes Energy and Grub Cycle. They do e-waste recycling, used cooking oil collection and reducing food wastage

This article first appeared in ringgitohringgit.com

Suraya is a corporate writer-for-hire and the blogger behind personal finance website Ringgit Oh Ringgit. She is more of a minimalist, less of a consumerist, a konon DIY enthusiast, a let’s-support-small-businesses-over-big-corporations kinda girl. Prior to her current role, she worked in various capacities within the non-profit industry.