1. This will be a 2-weeks challenge.
2. Week 1: Embrace Reuse. Make a list of 3 items that you would usually throw away without much thought and find ways to upcycle them into functional products.
3. Week 2: Favour Old Over New. Look through your wardrobe and make a list of clothing items you do not want anymore. Bring them to the nearest thrift shop and do a clothes swap instead.
4. Both weeks: Shun Disposables. Bring your own takeaway containers and utensils when you eat out / takeaway food. Do not use plastic straws / cups too, if possible!
5. Jot down your reflections from the 2-week journey. Have fun!
Though this challenge seems simple at a glance, after contemplating the components and expectations of each aspect, my guess is proven right — I am in for a ride! If that isn’t enough to intimidate me, I have zero knowledge about living a “zero-waste” lifestyle. Where do I start?!
Before beginning my challenge, I read blogs, considered waste production statistics, and watched videos for lifestyle tips. Going “zero-waste” is a movement where people strive to send no trash to landfills, and thus generally reduce the number of disposables we unthinkingly use. That means using items like tissue packets, food containers, plastic bottles (and more) is a big NO-NO! This came as a second shock: I never knew our waste could amount to fill 3,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools! Yet, as I begin to consider my own carbon footprint, I realised I am just another nonchalant contributor to those statistics. Disposing of old or used things is like second nature. God has given us the responsibility to preserve and care for His beautiful creation. I have my role as a steward, but am I playing my part? Sadly, I know the answer is not a satisfactory “yes”.
While there is apprehension, the desire to see a change in the way I live in light of that responsibility overrides that. It has taken me time to process all the information needed, as well as determination to prepare for this two-week journey of learning the heart behind a “zero-waste” lifestyle. Since I have been given an opportunity to honour God’s handiwork in practical, doable ways, I resolve to do it well. Challenge accepted!!!
Following the “zero-waste” lifestyle tips, I uncovered a lunch box, utensil set, ask, and recycled bag from the depths of my kitchen cabinet. With these in tow, I felt more at ease tackling the two weeks ahead.
Right from the get-go, I encountered my first obstacle. It was the first time I went out with my lunchbox to take away lunch, and I felt nervous. Would the vendor think of me as troublesome? However, remembering why I was doing this challenge immediately replaced the initial worry. Fewer styrofoam boxes, plastic bags, or utensils will be thrown away carelessly! This means a possible step of change and push for a less consumerist lifestyle! With these in mind, I ordered confidently and returned home rejoicing. After that first experience, it became my personal conviction to pack meals in a lunch box as often as I can. Recognising that the little I do to help the environment can go a long way is satisfying in itself.
The most challenging aspect of this week has been to avoid titbits and sweets because they are wrapped in plastic! I love indulging in chocolates, chips, and candy, so this was undoubtedly a test of self-control. So instead of an addictive snack, I settled for fresh fruits. This week of going “zero-waste” has attuned me to consider what disposables I use and how often I use it. On top of that, I’ve begun to enjoy a healthier lifestyle as well!
“Embrace Reuse” was quite a fun project! I enjoy crafting things but never really set aside time for it. It certainly added a refreshing twist to my otherwise ordinary studying routine. Knowing I could create something completely new from used items has awaken creativity within me. I made a terrarium from a jam jar, a cable cord organiser from a show box, and a hanging planter from a 1-litre plastic bottle! Who knew the lives of disposables could be extended for so many beneficial purposes! Do-it-yourself crafts will definitely be my new hobby, and the growing garden in my home will attest to it.
Avoiding disposables has been much easier this week; it is slowly becoming second nature to me! Still, it is difficult living completely waste-free. While the previous week has trained me to explore alternatives, this week pushed me to put them into practice.
Watching videos on thrifting has become one of my favourite pastimes and going to a thrift store has been on my mind lately! When I discovered I was to go thrifting for this challenge, I was ECSTATIC. From my research for “Favour Old Over New”, I found a thrift store named Refash, and I was all for their motivation to reduce clothes wastage and give pre-loved pieces a new lease of life. I brought two bags of my old clothes, and in exchange happily purchased two items under $16!
Looking back on these two weeks, I can honestly say it hasn’t been the easiest! It really took time and effort to get into the groove of this lifestyle.
I’ve never tried going “zero-waste” EVER in my life, so it was difficult (sobs), but I’m glad to say this experience has opened my heart to adopting this lifestyle… even after this challenge! My lunchbox and utensil set will faithfully stay by me. I’ll also continue to keep track of how much waste I use each day, and avoid plastics as much as I can. Something I have yet to do (but will endeavour to) is completely replacing plastic items, like toothbrushes and body wash bottles, common disposables whose environmental harm we think little of.
Do you have love for the Father’s beautiful creation? Then get your containers and cutlery set ready, because this challenge is for you!