Zero Waste: What It Is & Getting Started
Zero Waste is the art and science of living without creating trash. The aim is to send nothing to a landfill. The ways in which this is accomplished are to:
- reduce what we need;
- reuse as much as we can;
- send little to be recycled;
- compost what we cannot.
Now, zero is of course impossible in these human bodies. By exhaling we create waste. Zero waste is a pointer, a north star to help guide our choices in helping to create a more sustainable world.
The term “zero waste” is actually an industrial term used to mimic nature, meaning we take responsibility for our waste. This is a circular economy – an economy that’s based on taking back the “waste” produced and turning it into something useful.
Zero Waste In Practical Terms
In our daily lives what zero waste means is:
- Preventing waste from happening: recycling (the practice of reducing waste by attempting to avoid bringing items which will generate waste into our home or business) or refusing;
- Putting value back into our belongings;
- Reusing as much as we can with what we have.
Zero waste isn’t about recycling more. It’s actually about recycling less.
The true goal of zero waste is to rewrite the story of our consumption. It’s to put value back into our belongings and to focus on living instead of consuming.
How do we move toward Zero Waste? Focus on the five R’s:
- Refuse: The easiest way to prevent waste from leaving your home is to keep it from entering your home.
- Reduce: Lessen the amount of your belongings. Use less. Focus on what we have.
- Reuse: Before disposables, people made use of things they already had. Use what you have for another purpose. Buy second-hand. That sort of thing.
- Rot: Compost!
- Recycle: Once the hallmark of environmentalism, recycling, in the context of zero waste, is a last resort.
It’s A Journey
It’s important to remember that this is a journey and not a destination. Over the course of the coming year, we’ll examine steps we all can take to move forward on this path. Each month we’ll tackle a particular wasteful challenge, like shopping, cleaning, having a baby, and more. As with any lifestyles change, it’s important to set small achievable goals. We will provide you with many ideas and resources throughout the year.
In the meanwhile, keep these mantras in mind:
- Mindful consumption.
- Product lifecycle.
- Bring your own.
The world’s environmental crisis can feel overwhelming and it may feel as if one person can’t do much. But if we all embark on this challenge together, in small achievable steps, our actions will ripple out and affect the entire world.