How Lockdown Affected My Zero Waste Efforts At Home
Updated: Aug 28
My path on the zero waste journey has been littered with coronavirus challenges.
I was happily getting used to buying bulk foods and sending my recyclables to the recycling centre.
But then, everything changed when the government of Malaysia imposed the partial lockdown. This meant that only “essential businesses” were allowed to operate and citizens aren’t allowed out at all except for grocery shopping.
Sadly, recycling centres weren’t essential and the nearest bulk store is more than 10km away and they couldn’t deliver to my area.
I believe this is a common struggle among the eco-conscious and zero wasters.
So there were definitely changes to my sustainable lifestyle.
And even though my actions don’t seem as sustainable as before, my intentions are even more so.
I split this between the supermarket and bulk shop. The items that I bought from bulk shops were mostly the dry ingredients such as pasta, oats, nuts, seeds, and cacao nibs (i miss this!). The rest (vegetables, fruits, canned foods, etc.) were from the supermarket.
I could still go to the supermarket so I’m happy that I could get my fruits and veg unpackaged. But since I can’t go to the bulk store, I had to buy the packaged pasta and oats. I use my chia seeds sparingly so I haven’t had to buy them (I’m waiting for the lockdown to ease up). I’ve only bought packaged almond nuts once and I resisted buying walnuts even though I preferred it over any other nuts.
Suffice to say, there was some restraint in my grocery shopping.
I usually send my recyclables to a nearby recycling centre called Tzu Chi. They’d take all my recyclables, even tetrapaks, and further sort them out. They’re very dedicated in doing this and I’m so thankful for them.
Sadly, all recycling centres were closed. I didn’t actually go there to check it out myself but I saw this information in a news article. I guess this is for hygienic purposes. But it really does suck because there are a lot of empty cartons and cans in the cupboard under the sink.
I wasn’t practising composting at all. Let’s just leave it at that.
I had been learning about composting and somehow able to be in the state of mind to accept the idea of composting in the apartment. I think I’d attribute this to consuming Max la Manna’s content about regrowing vegetables and not wasting food scraps.
Also, I got involved in a Disco Soup thing during Earth Week and that got me motivated to start composting. So I started with collecting food scraps and peels in a tupperware and freeze them. I was hoping to bring them to my parents’ house to be buried when the lockdown eases. But I feel that I could do better than this so I bought a compost bin and soil. They have yet to arrive but I’m excited.
It’s terrifying to think that most people aren’t doing what I’m doing or at least not being as conscious about their waste. I just don’t want to think about the disposable masks and food packaging being thrown away daily.
But I know I don’t want to be a part of the problem.
Even though I still produce waste, I know that I’m reducing them and that I’m making a concerted effort to improve my situation.
I’m doing this because I care about the environment and that I care about keeping myself sane.
And I’m the only person that I can control so I should start with my actions.
Then, maybe I could inspire others to do the same.
I hope that recycling centres start operating again. With the loosening of the lockdown, I believe I can go to the nearest bulk store. And I’m just patiently waiting for my compost bin and soil to arrive so that I can start this exciting experiment!