Updated: Aug 4, 2020
By Dharshini Kannan
In 2019, The Politician on Netflix garnered a lot of attention and interest through its high
paced, goal-driven political comedy starring Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange.
The plot follows Payton Hobart, whose dream lies in becoming the President of the United
States one day, and with his triad of friends/advisors, does everything he can to make this
dream possible. Season two follows Payton on his race to become a New York Senator, and
one of his key pillars in his campaign was climate change. Infinity Jackson, his friend, was
one of the leading activists and gladly agreed to join his political campaign.
Infinity realized that Payton did the bare minimum to reduce his carbon footprint and was
ready to withdraw her support. As a last resort, she handed over a list of activities and tasks
for Payton and his staff that would reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. They
had to follow it through, even if they did not like each and every task.
Picture courtesy: IMDB
There were around 15 tasks on that list, and while Payton begrudgingly fulfilled each task,
the list is a great blueprint for anyone heading into the zero-waste lifestyle. So here are the
items on the list designed by Infinity, and a few more to move towards a zero-waste lifestyle.
1. Eco-friendly drycleaners: Dry-cleaning services and detergents are one of the bigger
domestic pollutants and lead to severe health risks and chemical pollution in the
water. As most dry-cleaning agents contain petroleum-based solvents and paraffinic
agents, they tend to leech into the ground and take decades to degrade.
Using organic solvents and natural ingredients to remove stains and wash clothes is a
giant step in reducing pollution. Natural abrasives such as lemon, chalk and vinegar
are great stain removers.
Picture courtesy: Good Housekeeping
2. Hand Washing Clothes: Hand washing clothes is not only good for the fabric and
stretches its lifespan, but it also reduces water wastage. Buying detergents in bulk and
washing laundry once a week further reduces your carbon footprint and eases your
wallet in the long run.
3. A Vegan Diet: A cornerstone of sustainable living, veganism is a great way to reduce
waste, make ethical choices of consumption and avoid animal abuse. A vegan diet
consists of much more that green leafy vegetables and as the demand for vegan and
alternative products grows, more and more vegan food is produced. A vegan diet at
this point of time is more feasible at a lesser price point, all it takes is a little bit of
research with nuts and seeds, plant protein and even vegan animal products.
4. Natural Gum: Chewing gum is the second biggest pollutant in the earth’s ocean,
right after cigarette butts. Chewing gum is primarily made of synthetic rubber, which
in its essence is plastic. While it is recyclable, it is never disposed of properly, and
often ends up in landfills and waterbodies. The most effective way to tackle this is to
simply stop chewing gum and switch to breath mints and natural breath cleansers such
as cloves and cucumbers. Secondly, proper disposal of chewing gum or switching to
natural gum is a good alternative.
5. Worm Farm: We have all learnt that worms are a farmer’s best friend, but their
friendship extends far beyond the fields. They consume microbes, a great contributor
to greenhouse gas emission, they create compost far cheaper with less maintenance
than chemical composting and are great soil tillers for your home garden. With so
many benefits, worms have a minimal carbon footprint and have a drastic reducing
effect on our emissions.
Picture courtesy: The Organised Home
6. Composting Bins: Composting bins are a great alternative to worm farms and come
in different sizes to fit your accommodation. Whether you DIY your compost bin or
buy one off a gardening website, make sure you follow through and take care of your
bin. Composting bins often take care of all organic wastes and then some that we
produce in our houses. From food scrapes to organic cotton balls and nail clippings
(gross but it is compostable), the compost bin takes care of it all and fuels your home
7. Aluminum Foil as an insulator: As radiators are not part of common appliances in
tropical climates, this may seem redundant to mention, but the trick helps explain
sneaky and blindsided ways through which we waste electricity and spend
extraordinary amounts on indoor temperature control systems. By sticking aluminum
foil or specially crafter radiator foil behind radiators, precious heat is kept in
circulation within the house and ensures less wastage. Electricity wastage can be
avoided very easily by just turning off fixtures and appliances when not in use.
Similarly, in warmer climates, plants in the house promote better air quality and use
their natural cooling system to cool the house as well.
Picture courtesy: Technavio
8. LED Lights: Following the path of reducing electricity consumption, by using LED
light fixtures, we are ensuring lesser wattage consumption. LED’s longer life also
saves money and creates lesser wastage in the long run. The initial investment is just a
tad bit higher than regular incandescent fixtures but the brighter lights, and greener
thumb outweighs it all.
Picture courtesy: Highsnobeity
9. Thrifting for clothing items: A little exploration and post-purchase maintenance
from thrift shops go a long way in reducing your carbon footprint. Thrifting is a great
way to find hidden gems and with the return of vintage fashion, authentic pieces add a
charm to your wardrobe at fraction of the cost of newly made clothing. Thrifting can
also help in finding previously loved branded pieces, especially when it comes to
outerwear and denims.
10. Reusable packaging: Single use packaging has finally come to light as one of the
bigger components that make up landfill waste. Simple steps such as requesting
minimal packaging on website purchases go a great way in reducing packaging
consumption. Similarly, buying in bulk reduces the greater stress on recycling and is
cost effective. By using reusable steel straws, keep cups and reusable produce bags,
we can make strides in reducing the use of single use plastics.
11. Reducing paper products: Reducing the use of paper products has a direct impact on
deforestation and saving flora and fauna. The kicker lies in the fact that while paper is
recyclable, it rarely ends up in recycling plants and turns up in landfills. By ensuring
that paper enters the recycling system, we can reduce the number of new trees being
cut down solely for paper. If digital tools are just not making the cut for you, recycled
paper is a great alternative as a staple stationery product.
12. Low flow shower heads: while a good shower after a long day feels almost
therapeutic in nature, showers are one of the worst culprits in contributing to water
wastage. Bucket baths are a great weapon in the bathroom and if you still need time to
let go of showers; a low flow shower head helps in reducing water just flowing down
the drain. Most low flow shower heads have aerators that bubble the water to maintain
good water pressure, but the net amount of water consumed can reduces by about
20% on average. Some showerheads also come with natural minerals in order to
provide a better quality of water.
13. Cold showers: Cold showers ties the same zero waste principles of reducing
electricity consumption and reducing water wastage. Cold showers are also
energizing, they are good for the immune system and motivate you to exit the shower
quicker. It is also great for the hair and skin and lessens heat spent on warming the
14. Rain Barrels: Rain barrels are simple and effective by assigning use to rain water
and reducing water rolling off concrete with no chance of permeating the ground.
Rain barrels are simple to set up with big containers and tubing. The water saved can
either be filtered and consumed, or used for cleaning and gardening.
15. Donate to Reduce your Carbon Footprint: Payton donated to offset his air transport
cost and we can apply that very easily to our own lives! Donating to forest relief
funds and research funds not only betters the environment, but it is a step forward in
ensuring the growth of sustainability and the preservation of the natural environment.
Similarly, signing campaign petitions, showing up and participating in preservation of
local greenery are all a step forward in ensuring a better future.
We have seen that protests, petitions and change in user patterns have all brought change at
the legislative level. Different consumption patterns have now created a whole market for
sustainable alternatives. While not all of us can practice zero-waste perfectly, the majority
imperfectly practicing zero-waste is a step forward reducing our carbon footprint. Regardlessof our political drive and ambitions, a zero-waste lifestyle is only better for both theindividual and for the community.