So, you’ve educated yourself with a good deal of knowledge about living the Zero-Waste Life. How about plunging in deeper?

From our time in school to proper workplace ethics, we have been learning all about proper waste management in a shallow manner. This time, let’s try and get to know the deeper sense of the 5 R’s of zero-waste. Understand that these R’s are itemized from most necessary to the last resort.

Introducing the 5 R’s of Zero Waste


Refusing things cuts your waste by half or even more. Refuse single-use items, plastic wrappers and containers, freebies that you won’t really put to good use. Take advantage of digital technology for storing things you need to remember and have for proof like receipts, business cards, photos, etc. These are just some of the many things you can refuse.

By refusing, you also refuse to add to trash that pollutes lands and waters. If major companies and even small enterprises start noticing that people are transitioning to these ideals of zero-waste,  then they, too, will have to adapt. This is a beautiful butterfly effect.


Reducing your consumption also means reducing your expenditure. Who doesn’t like to spend less but still get more? With the zero-waste lifestyle, this is entirely possible!

Start by listing down what you consume on a day-to-day basis. This includes food, clothing items, cleaning agents, etc. Consider what items you have in your household that you don’t actually need but are still in good condition and let them land on thrift shops or charities.

From the biggest equipment to the smallest non-perishable item, go for high-quality ones that will last you a lifetime. Capsule wardrobe for fashion enthusiasts, glassware storage set for food lovers, E-books for book fans – the list of alternatives goes on. You can really be anything and a zero-waste practitioner at the same time!


Thrift shops are all over the place. Delight on that. However, if you still like your items brand new, then make sure they can be used repeatedly. We like a purchase that is worth it.

Maximize the use of all items left in your care after you’ve done a considerable amount of decluttering. Produce bags, metallic straws, eco-friendly zero waste shaving razors – these are just some waste-saving alternatives you can go for to reduce your waste. Got vinegar and baking soda at hand? Either you cook with it or use it to clean floors and countertops.

Reusing items also means salvaging any poor-conditioned ones. Mend what’s broken and stitch wardrobe items that you still love. Surely, you’ll never let a pair of pants that you so lovingly patched to go to waste!


Letting food waste rot properly and turning it into compost or fertilizer is the way to go. You can also substitute this R for “repurpose”, given the idea that before you let your food rot, you can always use vegetable scraps for broth-making or lemon peels as homemade insecticides.

Making a compost system and homemade insecticides are only a few of the ways you are pulling two weeds with one yank. Not only are you managing the majority of the world’s waste better, but you are also doing earth mother a great service through promoting organic farming. If you’re a planting enthusiast, it’s high time you start digging your way through composting.


Experts say that recycling should be the last resort in the world of zero-waste lifestyle. After you have successfully refused waste-producing items therefore reducing your trash, you are left with items you will naturally reuse over and over. Food wastes are another league of their own. So what do you do with worn-out items?

Exactly. The sensible one will recycle.

There are two ways to recycle: upcycling and downcycling. Upcycling is basically creating art – a better item from the overused one. The latter, however, means creating something of lesser value than its original form. The sad part about this is, what happens when you no longer even like the item you recycled? They also end up in the trash.

This is why the only time you are encouraged to recycle is when you can turn junk into a beautiful or functional piece of art that you won’t abandon.

We have been taught to observe the universal 3 R’s of waste management. If you are one of the mindful ones who have been living life accordingly, applying the 5 R’s – that is, reduce, reuse, recycle – plus, the even more important refuse and letting food waste rot properly, congratulations! The zero-waste life is totally achievable!

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