Now is perhaps the perfect time to reevaluate our actions and roles as consumers. Owing to the pandemic, many of us have had to take pay cuts, some have lost jobs, others have lost jobs and found new ones. In general, I am able to sense some semblance of frugality taking hold, and this, I’m inclined to believe, is a good thing.
So here are some very simple ways to reduce waste. Recycling is one of the best ways to accomplish this, but it is most effective when coupled with other conscientious practices.
Reduce and phase out the use of plastic bags
It is a well-known fact that plastic bags are extremely harmful to the environment, yet they are omnipresent and seemingly unavoidable, especially at supermarkets and stores. Carrying reusable cloth bags is a highly effective way of reducing plastic waste. What’s more, cloth bags aren’t expensive either. This means you can buy cloth bags of different sizes and of varying degrees of sturdiness to suit different purposes.
Reduce the use of paper napkins and tissues
Use moisture-absorbing cotton handkerchiefs instead. It might not be a good idea to use one outdoors just yet, but using a handkerchief indoors is safe so long as we ensure basic hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
A good handkerchief absorbs wetness and moisture better than paper napkins and tissues, and it does not leave wet shards of paper on your hands or face. Remember to wash it regularly.
Change how you pack takeouts
This may not work until after we’re done with the pandemic, and it may be a little tricky because you have to convince restaurants to change how they pack your takeout. Invest in sturdy food thermos if takeouts are a regular feature of your life. Not only will this help you reduce waste but it will also keep your takeout hot for a longer duration.
Don’t waste food, but if you do…
Excess food almost always ends up in waste. However, with just a little bit of effort, excess food can be composted and used to enrich the soil in your backyard. There are plenty of easy-to-follow guides online to teach yourself how to compost effectively. But, remember: you don’t have to compost if you don’t waste food. Invest in airtight, refrigerator-friendly containers to store excess food.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, some people have been arguing that all humans should become vegetarians to prevent similar outbreaks in the future. This doesn’t sound like a feasible claim to me. First, a vegetarian diet doesn’t guarantee the prevention of outbreaks. Second, it is almost unthinkable to produce essentials of the vegetarian diet on the massive scale necessary to feed a global population. Additionally, the abrupt shift to vegetarianism will engender adverse health outcomes for many.
Nonetheless, this argument does shed light on the fact that we do waste plenty of food. If more people are to experiment with the vegetarian diet, it is essential to reduce waste. Unchecked consumption and careless handling of food are two aspects we simply must address at once. By doing so, we can lessen the burden on farmers, food producers and distributors: that is, we can reduce the supply-demand gap simply by preventing waste. Not to mention the fact that there will be more food available for people–which is a step closer to ensuring distributive justice.
To be a conscientious consumer is to make smart choices. For instance, fountain pens are more durable than disposable ballpoints, and they also produce less waste. Think of how many non biodegradable refills you won’t be buying if you don’t buy a ballpoint. Similarly, use durable razors as opposed to throw-and-use ones. In fact, consider buying durable products as opposed to use-and-throw ones. You can reduce waste by a significant margin by doing so. Similarly, try to mend products if they can be repaired. More importantly, make sure to buy products that can be mended, restored, or repaired.