What is Zero Waste?
Zero waste can be interpreted in many ways. Each person has their own individual meaning for it. To me, zero waste is being aware of what you consume and waste, and then in turn trying to cut down the amount you waste for the sake of the environment and future generations. There is no expectation of true “zero” waste. Being completely zero waste is just about impossible in todays time. When you throw something away, it never really goes away though. Every piece of trash that has ever been thrown away is still present on our planet and it is causing a lot of harm to our ecosystems and climate.
Zero waste takes time.
It has taken me YEARS to get to where I am now in my zero waste journey and there is still so much I can change to better my lifestyle. On a normal week my family generates roughly 1 bag of trash, but we have a bit of recycling each week. Holidays of course produce more, but we are working on improvements. I am not here to judge or make anyone feel guilty. I am here to share my lifestyle and how I try my best to be eco-friendly, and to help you think outside of the box that we have been trained to stay within. Please remember that we are all human, we are not perfect, and zero waste does not happen overnight.
People who adapt to a zero waste lifestyle typically follow the 5 R’s.
- Rot (compost)
- Refuse- The easiest thing we can do to reduce our waste is simply say no. No to freebies, no to flyers, or no to something you really have no need of.
- Reduce- If we reduce the amount we consume then in return we reduce the amount we throw away. This does not mean that your life has to be boring and bland, but do you really need that 10th pair of blue jeans or that Starbucks coffee that you could have made at home? Zero waste not only reduces waste of products, but also reduces the waste of money.
- Reuse/repair- When you are thinking of throwing something away, say an old shirt, possibly think of a way you could reuse it. You can turn it into a reusable produce bag or cleaning rags. Pinterest is a magical place with so many ideas for reusing old things. Before throwing something away see if there is anyway to repair it.
- Recycle- Recycle is low on the pyramid due to the fact that plastics can only be recycled a certain amount of times, where as, glass and metal can be recycled an unlimited amount of times. I try to think of recycling as a last resort. If I cannot find a zero waste solution then I try to find a solution that I can at least recycle.
- Rot- There is so much of our trash that can actually be composted. Paper, cardboard, vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, etc. The list is very long. You would be surprised how much trash can be prevented just from knowing what all can be composted.
There is no shame in caring for our environment and wanting to go zero waste. Even if you only want to choose a few things from a zero waste lifestyle and apply it to yours, that’s okay. Do not let anyone tell you that you do not care about our planet just because you aren’t as extreme as they are, and do not let anyone put you down because they think zero waste is stupid and a waste of time. You do what makes you feel good.
Don’t know where to start? Try Zero Waste: Where to start.