To put it simply, zero waste is a 21st century movement that aims to reduce the amount of trash we as a society produce. It’s not about creating zero waste so much as limiting the amount we make.
I know how that sounds. You might be wondering “is there even such a thing as being completely zero waste?” At the moment, no.
Currently, it’s impossible for me (or any human) to create absolutely no trash in today’s society. My purchases and your purchases (indirectly and directly) will create waste that we may or may not see. That’s because we live in a linear economy instead of a circular economy.
That said, the whole goal of zero waste living is to reduce the waste. Zero waste individuals reflect on their consumerist habits and consider how they impact the environment. They take this into consideration before every new purchase.
The 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot
There are 5 R’s to the zero waste lifestyle: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. Each one matters and contributes to creating a less wasteful, circular economy. Refuse single use plastics (ex: straws) and single use paper products ( ex: paper towels) in place of reusables. Reduce what you’re purchasing by being mindful of what you truly need. Reuse everything you have by keeping it in great condition and repairing it when it breaks. Recycle any plastic, paper, or metal that comes into your life properly by researching your state’s recycling laws. Rot your food scraps by setting up a compost system in your abode, or finding a food scrap drop off center (like a farmer’s market). Zero wasters do their best to practice the 5 R’s to cut back on the trash they make.
Why should anyone care?
The average American makes 4.4 pounds of trash per day. That’s 1,600 pounds of waste per year. Worse yet, most of us just toss it in the trash and forget about it once the garbage truck comes to take it away.
Single-use disposable plastic, non-recyclable materials and general misguidance make an impact on the environment. Items we use for convenience (like coffee cups, plastic utensils, etc.) wind up in our oceans and landfills. These items take decades to decompose and break down into (still dangerous) micro-plastics that wind up back in our food chain. That’s right: We’re literally eating plastic, whether we know it or not.
That’s why zero waste living is so important: It can help us end our wasteful ways and provides a much needed escape from our disposable society. We’ve become too disassociated from the waste we create. We’re convinced we need more stuff to be happy, but this is simply not the case.
What you can do:
It’s time to end our senseless consumption of items. Zero waste living proposes a way of life that is simpler and more sustainable. Everyone’s zero waste journey is bound to be different: Maybe some of you will only reduce your trash by 20 percent, or maybe as much as 90 percent. But whatever action you take truly does matter.
It’s your willingness to change that fuels this revolution. Do it for the future of the earth and the animals. But most importantly, do it for you. One simple change can help inspire many more to come.
Want to join the zero waste movement and greenify your life even further? Here’s a two step system to help you get started.
Next: 2 Steps to Zero Waste