Make your life Zero Waste
A lot of people have been making changes to their lives with the alarmingly disturbing news we hear about the damage that’s been done to our environment. These changes include recycling, reducing meat consumption, and not using plastic. With all these changes one thing has been gaining more momentum: The Zero Waste Movement.
So what’s Zero Waste?
Simply put: The Zero Waste movement is about not sending anything to a landfill. This basically means that we’ll reduce what we need, reuse everything we can, recycle as little as possible, and compost what we cannot reuse or recycle. The less simple answer: It's really about redefining the system. The goal of The Zero Waste Movement is basically to copy nature’s design, creating what is known as “circular economy’’ which allows us to keep our resources as long as possible, and resume them back into the system instead of throwing them in the trash.
Why do we want to avoid sending things to landfills?
The average American produces 4.4. pounds of trash every single day, significantly more than the global average of 2.6 pounds. In a nation of nearly 324 million people, that amounts to more than 700,000 tons of garbage produced daily—enough to fill around 60,000 garbage trucks. This is a horrifying amount of waste. Read here what the World bank suggests for a solid waste management and for a zero-waste lifestyle. Apart from overconsumption, landfills are extremely toxic as they produce both carbon dioxide and methane, a greenhouse gas that’s more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. Beside methane and carbon dioxide, landfills also produce other toxins from batteries, small electronics, cleaners and other things that shouldn’t be landfilled. All these toxins seep into the soils and oceans, destroying the plants and marine life. A lot of trash doesn’t even reach landfills, they litter the streets and wash up in our oceans. The most dangerous of which is plastic; which doesn’t biodegrade and end ups destroying the marine life, our health, and the soil.
Why recycling isn’t enough?
Recycling is a great way to reduce waste and the harm done to the environment, but is it enough? The answer is simply no. A recent study by Dr. Roland Geyer and colleagues of the University of California, Santa Barbara estimates that only 9 percent of all the plastic we’ve ever created has been recycled and only 23 percent of the waste that can be recycled is recycled. This isn’t to say we should stop recycling. This is to say we have to stop depending on recycling as a solution to all our problems because it simply isn’t. This video gives a great overview of recycling and how we should go about it.
So how should we start?
If you’re about to join the Zero Waste movement, you have to familiarize yourself with the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Being Zero Waste is all about decision-making, you have to rethink every purchase you make, and decide if you really “need” it. The most effective way to reduce waste is not to create it in the first place; we currently live in a society that’s all about consuming things, we buy a lot of things that we don’t need for instant gratification. So before buying something, wait, and spend some time to think whether you need it or not. The second step is to reuse. You can do that by buying second-hand items, repairing broken appliances, electronics and other items instead of tossing them into landfill trash, repurposing items by transforming the old into new, usable objects and finally donate things you don’t need so others can reuse them. And finally, recycle what you can’t reduce or reuse and compost the rest.
Here are a few steps to get you started:
- Seek longevity and steer clear of disposables: When you’re buying something, opt for products that are durable and can be repaired or re-manufactured into something new. You should also choose products that are reusable instead of single-use disposable ones.
- Make lists your friends: A great way to help you decide if you really need something is making lists before-hand. This will help you fight the urge to buy the first thing that crosses your path and it also you help prioritize things while making the list itself.
- Welcome a couple of essential products into your life: Start investing in organic, reusable, long-lasting products that serve your Zero Waste purposes. Here are some essentials:
- Learn to say no: You should learn to refuse the little things; a plastic bag at the store, a disposable straw at the coffee shop or a business card at a meeting. Recognizing and refusing waste no matter how small is crucial to your journey towards Zero Waste.
- Join Zero Waste communities for support: Joining Zero Waste blogs and accounts on Instagram will help you stay motivated and get helpful tips on being Zero Waste. Here’s a video on how to reduce waste.
- Realize that it’s a process: Going Zero Waste seems like an overwhelming step to some people, especially that many embark on the journey thinking everything will be perfect from their first try. It’s not something that will happen overnight, it takes dedication and persistence so every little choice you make counts.