the five Rs of zero waste

refuse. reduce. reuse. recycle. rot.

the first R is the most difficult, and that is REFUSE. like saying no to birthday cake or a second helping of food, refusing more belongings tends to be difficult. when considering a purchase, i always categorize purchases in four categories; 1) will i die without this? in most cases the answer is no. 2) will this improve my essential quality of life? for instance, i purchased a used bike last year, because my old bike was bad for my knees. 3) will this thing make my life easier? these things will save you time and/or money, so that you can do more of the things you love. 4) anything pass the third category is simply a privileged purchased, and so ask yourself before you buy: were workers paid fair wages? is it made of quality/ biodegradable material? will it last long? does the company offer a closed-looped program? how have i caused harm?

the second, REDUCE. the second R is the tricky, what are you going to get rid of? we become attached to our material belongings. we think they carve us into who we are, and arguably they do, like my heirloom afghan from my great grandmother, it is proof of my ancestry/ background. i would never give that away, but most things do not shape our identity, rather we make purchases on impulse to fulfill unaddressed traumas that we are unwilling to acknowledge and work on. the act of reducing is a cathartic experience that lifts a heavy weight off of our being. so that we may be more mindful and loving (which are the same thing). we should allow our identify to shape the things we decide to own, not the other way around. so, get rid of the things that do not serve you.

REUSE is the creative R. this is when we compete with our trash can for the final location of an item. take my reusable napkin which i accidentally burnt with sage. 😂put a big hole through it. instead of throwing the burnt napkin away, i gave it a second life with some scraps. other examples include a tea pot i turned into a plant pot, socks into rags. not to mention,our grandmothers turned cookie tins into sewing kits. i've even seen old plastic bags woven into a gate ( a freaking gate!). challenge yourself to see potential in the things you deemed 'trash' and find a second life for it. you can do it put your back into it. 🐪

RECYCLE is the underestimated R. it's underestimated because there are many things that can be recycled like markers, CDs, electronics, that we don’t know we can recycle. curbside recycling is limited mostly to plastic food containers, cardboard, glass and metals. some of the more tricky items can be recycled at a hard-to-recycle facility. in atlanta, there is cHarm. or you can recycle items by dropping them off at participating stores or shipping them to facilities that recycle specific items. although we hope for a day when all 'waste' can be recycled back into the ecological system, this approach is the better option than a landfill.

ROT is my fav R of zero waste.
can you feel yourself decomposing as you scroll on ig? i love decomposition, it is proof that the creator had perfection in mind when creating planet earth. things that were once living, have an opportunity to return nutrients back to the earth in a process of rotting, or breaking down. the most common thing we consider for rotting is kitchen scraps, but just about any natural material like cotton fabrics or human hair can rot in a compost pile instead of a landfill.

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