Five Easy Steps to Live More Eco-Friendly

Have you decided to be more eco-friendly? Below you will find information that will make the lifestyle change practical and straightforward so that you can make a difference in the world today. 

With the many reasons to make necessary changes in the way we consume, there is a great global initiative towards sustainability, and a growing philosophy called Zero Waste that is challenging and changing the way we live—transforming us from a single-use throw-away society into a more sustainable environmentally friendly way of life. Zero Waste offers an experience that has health, happiness, awareness, and prosperity as its most significant benefits. 

There are 5 Rs in the Zero Waste philosophy, which stands for Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. These 5 Rs are five easy steps to live by. They give us a guide that will help us take personal responsibility for our health and the environment through our choices as consumers.

The 5 Rs and Practical Ways to Apply Them to Your Life

1.  Refuse

Let's face it; we are all busy! In a world of ease, we take advantage of anything that can relieve that busyness. As consumers, you're encouraged to ease the pressures of time constraints by using convenient solutions, such as prepackaged items or things you can pick up and use. This has caused devastating effects on both our health and the environment. With just a few small steps, we can change this. Here are some things you can do to refuse:

Give up bottled water.
  • Find a beautiful stainless or any non-plastic reusable water bottle. I do not recommend eating or drinking from plastic.

Bring your reusable items to replace single-use plastic.
  • Bring reusable bags for shopping and your own to go eat out kit

Don't take freebies and buy only what you need.
  • It's tempting to take free things. Refusing those items will slow down production when they aren't being consumed.

Refuse to buy products that aren't non-GMO and products with chemicals and products that aren't in sustainable compostable or nonrefillable containers.
  • Use the power of your dollar to tell companies what you want and don't want.

Stop the junk mail.
  • You'll be removed from many or even most of the mailers you receive through DMA opt-out service. It can be done online for $2 or through the mail for $3. Visit for details on how to stop receiving junk mail. You can even do the same for your email.

2.  Reduce

How much time do you spend looking for something in your home or office? I have spent way too much time doing this. One of the most significant benefits of reducing is the freedom from having so many things. If you don’t have a lot of things, then you don’t have to spend time, energy, and effort taking care of them, storing them, and looking for them. It’s just less work! Who doesn’t want that? If we are holding on to things we don’t need, we are keeping those things from people who need them. Buying second-hand is a great way to get the things you need when you need them. Donate your items when they are no longer required. It’s that simple! Things we can do. Let’s reduce together:

Donate what you aren’t using 
  • Do I need three spatulas and two vacuum cleaners?

Stop using disposable products 
  • Use a safety razor instead of a disposable. Make your products or buy from people who use or refill in sustainable containers (glass, bamboo, wood, steel). 

Repair instead of discard and buy new 
  • Learn to repair things. YouTube has a lot of instructional videos for fixing things. Take a little time and do those quick fixes that you can do to keep items from being waste and needing to buy again. 

Make a meal plan. Only buy what you need. 
  • Discipline yourself to make a meal plan and make a list for it only! Purchase what’s on your list ONLY! Make sure you give yourself a treat for sticking with the list! 

Cut back energy use 
  • You are making your home more energy-efficient, benefits the environment and our cost of living. 
  • Follow conservation practices to keep usage down. 
  • Reduce vehicle travel and opt for a walk or bike ride 

3.  Reuse

Have you ever turned a bottle into a piece of art? Or stuck a head of lettuce in the soil to grow again? Well, those are just two examples of reusing. Reusing is a crucial step in learning to live more sustainably because it cuts down on consumer purchases and keeps those things out of our landfills. It completely stops the chain of waste! Some things we can do to reuse:

Buy second hand
  • A great way to reuse is thrift shopping. Or buying second-hand, which helps keep things out of the landfill unnecessarily. Whether it's furniture or appliances, it's always a better environmental option to reuse by buying second-hand.

  • Take that chipped bowl and make a planter! Many creative people have found great ways to repurpose things to keep them out of the landfill.

Use reusable bags and containers for EVERYTHING.
  • Make this a lifestyle. Put reusable bags in your car. Put kits together for shopping and for eating out. Small steps equal significant changes!

4.  Recycle

Do you know how to recycle correctly? Recycling is super important but not to be relied upon. We are in a plastic crisis, and now is the time to learn to live without single-use plastic! For your health and the environment. 

Recycling boosts our local economies by producing jobs and creating value from our discards. 

Get educated and know good practices of recycling--Brevard County Recycling website. 
  •  This page has great tips on how to recycle. You can learn best practices and teach your community, friends, and family! 

Say no to single-use plastic and reduce your recycled waste. 
  • Only 9% of plastics are recycled—a sign we must stop using plastic. Plastic never wholly degrades. Recycling requires energy and pollutes the environment, so keep recycling in its place and learn to reduce and only recycle what’s necessary and allowed. 

5.  Rot

Zero Waste teaches us to reduce our food waste by only buying what we need, then using up everything we have, reducing yard trimmings, composting what’s left, and returning the nutrients to the soil.

Rotting waste in compost makes healthy soil. It can:
  • Conserve water by decreasing irrigation use.
  • Produce more crops
  • Reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and insecticides
  • Protect against erosion and flooding
  • Filter pollution out of the soil and restore contaminated land.

Rotting your food waste and yard clippings in compost at home keeps debris out of the landfill.
  • In compost, food waste can be made into nutrient-rich soil to use positively in the environment.
  • Every investment in our land is an investment in clean air and pure water, healthier food, diverse ecosystems, and a stable climate.

We hope at Zero Waste Brevard that these simple steps help you apply small changes that impact your life. Sustainable growth is a great endeavor for our health and the environment.

Written by: Dawn Harrell | Zero Waste Brevard Campaign

Follow Zero Waste Brevard on Facebook  |  Check out Dawn's Website: Dawn Harrel Art

Stel Bailey

Stel Bailey, a cancer cluster survivor and environmental health advocate, is a researcher and journalist with more than two decades of multimedia experience, having been published globally.

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