“Zero Waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health ”Definition of Zero Waste as adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance
Why Zero Waste Is Important
Zero waste lifestyle contributes to reducing humanity’s climate impact. Reduce, reuse and recycle are key values of the movement, standing for protecting the resources available, for minimizing pollution and for a sustainable culture of consumption.
In general, the zero waste movement is aiming to redefine the system that dictates our lives. We live in a linear economy, where we take natural resources, we make products that we mostly consume, but in the process, we generate lots of trash that gets thrown in the landfill. The zero waste system aims to promote a circular economy, where nothing gets back into nature as trash. Instead, all resources can get back into the system with a new purpose, over and over again.
How the World Can Go Zero Waste
The most meaningful tools of the zero waste movement are recycling and upcycling. Either way, the amount of waste that would end up in landfills is reduced and the need for the production of new materials is lower.
On the one hand, recycling means converting waste into new materials, in order to create new products. When you recycle an item, like a plastic bottle, it has to go back into production in order to be later on reused and transformed into a different product.
Upcycling, on the other hand, means that a product that is no longer useful as it is, gets a new use with minimal adjustments. In this way it can continue to be used in a similar form, but for different purposes, such a glass jar that gets reused in the kitchen multiple times.
One of the main differences between recycling and upcycling would be the funds involved. The recycling process needs funds for the process to take place, while upcycling can generate funds, as the new product can be sold with minimum adjustments and with a new purpose.
How You Can Go Zero Waste
There are many other ways that us as individuals can implement in our lives in order to support and adopt a zero waste lifestyle. Check out this list of inspiring things to do when you’re trying out or going towards a zero waste living:
- Say no to single use items, like coffee cups, straws or shopping bags;
- Bring your reusable bags to the store, like canvas bags;
- Reuse the plastic you already own as much as possible;
- Take care of the things you own: sew a button, fix a screw;
- Donate the things you don’t use;
- Buy more second hand: clothes, homeware;
- Collect hard to recycle items and recycle them, like electronic toothbrush heads, batteries,
- Buy only what you actually need;
- Ask to receive your bills only by email;
- Buy rechargeable batteries instead of disposables;
- Skip gift wrapping or replace it with recycled paper or textile wraps;
- Ditch paper tissues and towels and choose textile ones instead;
- Wash clothes less: especially jeans, only wash these when they are actually dirty;
- Buy products that come in reusable containers;
- Buy body care products that come with no packaging at all, like bar soaps; ( you can find some products inspiration here Top 10 Organic Products for Your Body Care Routine )
- Switch to reusable period products: cloth pads, menstrual cups; (you can find more information in this article Top 5 Eco Friendly Period Products to Try )
- Go for a metal safety razor instead of the plastic one;
- Buy in bulk (rice, flour, coffee);
- Plan your meals to avoid food waste;
- Store your food properly to last longer;
- Use your freezer for more than meat: freeze soft bananas to turn them into a banana bread later on;
- Make and pack your own lunch, instead of eating out every day;
- Buy food that comes with minimal packaging;
- Take a reusable water bottle with you whenever you go out;
- Use a Moka Pot or a french press to make your morning coffee; (read more about How to Make Your Coffee Habits More Sustainable )
- Compost your food scraps;
- Regrow kitchen scraps;
- Buy tools and items that can last a lifetime, not just a season;
- If possible, collect rainwater and have a greywater and blackwater recycling system installed in your house