Have you seen the term ’zero waste’ popping up everywhere, but aren’t quite sure what it means? Zero waste living is, quite simply, reducing any landfill waste to an absolute minimum. If a company makes a product, let’s say a toothbrush, and then a store sells you that toothbrush, throwing away not only the packaging but eventually the toothbrush, is now your responsibility. So what if you said ‘no’? What if you started to reject products packaged in wasteful materials? Do you think the companies would change their ways?
That’s the basic premise behind adopting a zero waste lifestyle. That if enough people demand change with their pocketbooks, companies will start to change the way they do business. We’re living with a linear economy rather than a circular one, and we’re running out of resources...fast.
But It’s Impossible to be ZERO Waste
Have you heard the term ‘zero waste’ and your first thought was “impossible!”? Well, you’d be right. It’s not actually very possible to create absolutely zero waste, unless you live completely off the grid without ever putting a cent into to economy. Does that mean you shouldn’t try? Of course not! While our purchases can often create tons of waste in their production that we never even see, starting with the waste we willingly welcome into our homes is a good place to start.
One Person Can’t Change Anything
Sure, one person alone can do very little, a group of people can do a lot. And maybe, more importantly, the spending power of a group of people definitely can. The zero waste lifestyle not only encourages you to speak out against harmful waste production with your voice but equally with your spending habits.
I Already Recycle
When we were taught to recite Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in school, they failed to reinforce that the words are in order of priority. Meaning that we should first try to reduce the waste in our lives, then try to reuse anything we can and lastly to recycle. A shocking number of recyclable materials end up in landfills (even if you toss them in a recycling bin) with only 9% getting recycled. Don’t throw your arms in the air and start chucking your recycling in the garbage though! Every contribution to keep trash from being burned, piled up or floating away to sea is a good thing.
Zero Waste Is a Fad
While it may seem like going vegan or Paleo, zero waste lifestyles aren’t about perfection. They’re about effort. There’s no ‘cheating’ and the only way to fail is to decide you no longer care. Every step you take towards reducing the waste you personally contribute to landfills is a win for our planet and our future. While it may seem like a hip or trendy fad, lots of fads have become a normal part of everyday society. On August 20, 1990, the Washington Post called bicycling a hot fad for the "bleached-haired, music-hall type". Sound familiar?
The ‘throw away’ culture created in the 50s encouraged housewives to save time by simply throwing plastic plates away. This was also a trend that society fed with its pocketbooks. Imagine what good we can accomplish if we put our heart, minds, and money behind it.