You wake up in the morning. You shower using water that comes from the collectively managed supply, which in turn comes from a local source and is supported by many independent groups and run by the elected government, like many other facilities these days.

The natural soaps and personal-care products leave behind a lovely earthy smell. You made these in the local co-operative centre that everyone in your community visits. The centre is supported by a group of women who are making these products using the recipes handed down to them from the previous generations and the technology available today.

Once you have dried off, you move to your closet and choose your clothes carefully. You liked all the options at the clothes swap the previous night. Now it is as though you have too much choice until the next clothes swap you visit, which will be the next month. You love how clean the items are each month and how the new apparel provides a unique angle and a story. Stories, as you know, are important.

All products are rented and repaired these days, from your phone to your washing machine. Anything and everything. The method supports the growing workforce. The system has helped everyone in the city live a healthier and more mindful life.

Your home is powered by renewable energy that is managed collectively like the water supply. You think about how lovely it is that everyone is open about what they do and how they do it. It has helped so many people live a better life.

You smile as your compost is collected to nourish the farms on the roofs in the centre of the city. The city has been cooler and greener since the government acted on everyone’s desire to create a more sustainable environment. The local action groups explained everything clearly and provided the catalyst that the government needed to know that they could make the monumental change.

Now, the power and resources move in and out of the urban centre easily due to the transport network that connects rural locations, satellite towns and the city in no time at all. All systems balance each other out and function as part of a cohesive whole. You love the interconnectedness of it all.

You have decided to take the train and head out to a remote beach today with your friends. There are so many fish in the ocean again, just as there are forests that have been regrown, with an abundance of wildlife flourishing within, which the train will skirt alongside for the ride.

So much has changed. Joyfully, you realise that these thoughts are only a small glimpse of the whole. You smile to yourself, believing that the day will be remarkable, just like everything else around you has been ever since humanity decided to make a collective choice.

You are travelling through your city. There is a red car beside you and a blue car in front. On the other side is a truck and behind that is a bus.The noise from the vehicles is drowned out to a certain degree by the radio, which is turned up to ten. Your lunch with your friends had to be cut short because all of you were in a rush to get to your other engagements. The takeaway packet containing your half-eaten meal sits on the empty seat beside you.

The light turns green. The blue car in front releases the brakes.The truck chugs into gear. The red car stalls for a moment. The bus beeps at you as you speed over the black bitumen.

You see your city standing tall around you. With just your takeaway bag for company, you roll past parks that are empty because of the soaring heat. The cinema next to one of the concrete playgrounds has a long line outside it. People are pushing in to try and get some cool air on to their faces.

You turn the corner. Then the next. You climb the small bridge towards your neighbourhood and pay little attention to the river that has never been itself since the large company started production upstream. The sun is covered by a grey haze. You wanted the government to address the smog issue, but they never seem to do what they promise before they are voted in. Hardly anyone expects a change any more.

The road that your car is bumping over has a lot of people living on the side these days. They hide under the shadow of the new apartment buildings and restaurants. This reminds you to make reservations for dinner with your colleagues, family and friends next month.

You know how lucky you are to live within driving distance of these fine restaurants. Other people you know may need to take public transport to get to the restaurant, in part because of the limited car spaces available, but not you. You plan to get there early so that you can park your car.

You take the next left, the right after that and pull into the driveway. That’s it! Just two blocks from the restaurants. You pick up your phone and dial. You plan to set the dates for your next dinner so that you do not forget.

You walk to the bins that are overflowing a little, place the takeaway lunch that you no longer want into one of them and shake your head at the poor garbage collection in this city. On the upside though, you feel, the city has nice restaurants and many other areas that you like to frequent. Someone at the restaurant picks up the phone and you make a reservation.

Bare Necessities

Excerpted with permission from Bare Necessities: How To Live A Zero Waste Life, Sahar Mansoor and Tim de Ridder, Penguin Books.