Congratulation on taking the time to research about Zero-Waste! You’re right where you need to be to start reducing your waste and save the world (over dramatic but barely ;)). I talk a lot about reducing waste and how to have a Zero-Waste (-ish) lifestyle and wanted to take the time to explain the general concept, the basics on what it really is, why it matters and how it works.
What is Zero-Waste?
There’s a big debate on the term “Zero-Waste” and many have different interpretations to what that means. Some argue that is must be taken literally, which is impossible especially if you live in the city, and others like Zero-Waste International Alliance, state that Zero-Waste symbolizes the goal we’d like to achieve: as little as possible.
“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.”
As this definition sums it, the idea here is to find alternative ways to consume and meet our needs. Whether it is at the grocery store or in our home, there are simple tricks we can make in our daily routine to reduce our trash and the spendings that go with them!
Why it matters?
Working for now 3 years on climate issues, one thing has come clear, we seriously need to change our ways and fast. As I do believe that we need legislations to facilitate more quickly the desperately needed transition, it is just as important than WE, the people make the ought to see in this world. We consume and waste so much, we are starting to see islands of trash popping in every oceans. I encourage you to read this article about the 7th continent. Over a million square miles and 90 feet deep amount of trash floating in the ocean and the numbers keep increasing. With the equivalent of a truck full of trash is dumped in the ocean every minute, the trend doesn’t seem to be stoping any time soon. Unless we change drastically and quickly the way we live.
How do we do this?
First you need to know your trash to know how to reduce it. Start by analyzing: starting today, analyze what you put in your trash and in a week or when ever you trash is full, open it. Look at what’s inside, is it more coffee cups, or food packaging? More plastic or more recyclable?
Second, write down goals. It is can be very rewarding to see where you wanted to go and realize that you out performed yourself. Ex: If coffee cups are you’re issue, switch to a reusable one and keep it in your bag or your car, bike any where convenient and strategic to keep it in mind. Once you tackle you biggest source, move on to the next one. As you gain new habits setting more rules becomes easier.
This pyramid comes from one of the leaders/founders of the movement, Bea Johnson’s books called the Zero Waste Home. It explains very well the whole concept of reducing waste and how to prioritize. First refuse, when offered a bag at the store, refuse the straws at the bar, etc.
Downsize, take time to look around your home and look at the things you really use and the things you have you never take out of the closet. And let go of what you don’t need. Not only it will declutter your home but also will have an impact on every aspect of your life. I encourage you to read about minimalism to understand further more about reducing and how less has become more.
Before you buy, reuse what you already have. More often than none we do have an extra something. Reuse your jar, go to the bulk station of your grocery store instead of the pre package aisles.
Not mentioned on this pyramid, but just as important as reuse. You’ll find amazing DIYs on Pinterest like how to reuse old shirts to make cleaning wipes for instance. You don’t have to be very creative. Simple things like repurposing your tomato sauce glass container and bring it to the bulk, will go a long way. I love repurposing, that’s when you can get really creative and surprise yourself.
Too much of our trash is not recycled and we can have a direct impact on this. Look up the labels on your trash and visit your state or local recycling center website to learn what you can actually recycle.
Rot or in other word compost.
Our scraps can be used to create useful fertilizer that will feed your garden as opposed to generating methane in landfills. With or without germs, there are different ways to approach it but all as effective.