Zero waste is a term we hear banded about and after asking a few of my friends what they think about zero waste, I found that they actually don’t understand what it is, or why they should even bother thinking about it!
So, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about what it is, who it impacts and why we should all at least be doing something towards going zero waste.
What is Zero Waste? Really, there are 2 answers to this question:
The simple answer: We aim to send no waste at all to landfill. We reduce what we actually need, reuse as much as we can in different ways, send minimal to be recycled and compost what we cannot.
The more complicated answer: The whole systems needs to be redefined. We currently live in a linear economy where all the raw materials used to make products and then after use, the waste produced is then thrown away from the earth we use are thrown away (onto landfills). The goal of zero waste is to move to a circular economy where we work towards everything that is made is then recycled for further use again and again. Instead of throwing resources away onto landfills, a system would be created by us where all resources are reused within the system. A circular economy would eventually mimic nature in that there is no trash in nature.
At its core, zero waste challenges people to really evaluate their lifestyle and to reflect on how their daily habits are negatively impacting the environment. Convenience in the form of non-recyclable materials, cheap plastics and disposable products has become extremely detrimental to our planet’s health along with the thriving of humans and animal species worldwide. It isn’t too late to change this course and we can all make a difference, but expect blood, sweat, and tears along the way!
We live in a disposable society where we have become completely disassociated from our waste producing reality and convinced by various marketing tactics that we are constantly in need of more stuff in order to be happy within ourselves. For the average person, their trash and recycling are picked up from the curb 1-2x a week and never seen again. What they don’t see is our landfills are overflowing, our oceans are littered with plastics, and we are left with billions of tons of waste that cannot break down for hundreds of years, that also cannot be recycled. Shockingly, even space has trash in it, with old inactive satellites still orbiting Earth, just left there abandoned. As a society, we have reached a point where the zero waste movement is truly necessary in order to safeguard the future of our ecosystems.
Zero waste has been described by some as a new fad lifestyle. This is not a new thing to have suddenly taken off. Our disposable society evolved very rapidly in the last century due to the birth of plastics. Zero waste aims to combat the disposable mind set by returning to a more simple and sustainable way of life. The zero waste movement is not a destination but a journey. And this particular journey isn’t about perfection at all as it is never going to be perfect. It’s about striving to get as close to zero as possible and minimising our waste stream. Whether that means a 1% reduction or a 99% reduction in trash output per person, every percentage point counts. Society may never reach zero, but this shouldn’t stop any of us from trying!
At the end of the day, the zero waste lifestyle begins with a willingness to change our habits and invest in our society built on sustainability, ethics, and transparency.