What is Zero Waste Living?

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.

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  • All power resides in the hands of the consumer. The best and fastest way to bring change is by refusing to buy a product if it does not meet the buyer’s standards, be it organic foods, non-gmo products or zero waste packaging. Don’t be afraid to speak up to your local retailers about the excess packaging they carry in their stores. Seek out products that are not overly packaged in plastics. Make the effort to bring our own reusable bags to the store and insist that products from bakeries and butchers NOT be encased in plastic.

    Nola Alt on
  • My wife and I have been trying to find ways to become more of a “zero waste” couple. In Hope’s of lassing this to our children, friends and family. I appreciate what etee does but we have trouble finding products (house hold cleaners, soaps, shampoos, etc) that aren’t packaged in plastic. Etee please Help!! We have your wraps, dish soap and dish cloths, all packaged without plastics. WE WANT LESS PLASTIC…. Thanks etee!

    Ean Messerschmidt on
  • I think there are many small ways to get the message across…. You are given plastic bags at the store let the owner know it is time to start using paper bags….each consumer can use fabric bags which they carry in there purse. Watch what items you buy and how they are packaged. Contribute to those who are working on cleaning up or join the effort if you are able. Petition your government to CHANGE!

    MAry HArrison on
  • I’m nearly 71 and have been recycling and using cloth bags for many years. It is very frustrating to know that even those steps make little difference but, as you say, every bit helps. I have trouble getting my husband more involved, though. He forgets cloth bags, etc. I really like that your products give me an option for storing food that doesn’t involve throwing away packaging. It shapes very easily to conform to the shape of the food and keeps well. Thanks for coming up with these progressive ideas!

    Linda Beckman on

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