Does zero waste really matter? Read on to see what it’s all about
Zero waste is a concept of living wherein people try their best to live their lives while producing the least amount of waste possible.
Picture this: you’re going food shopping. You walk into the supermarket and you buy your supplies. They are bagged and you take them back home. You put everything in place, and what are you left with? Plastic bags and plastic wrappers, price tags and stickers from fruits and vegetables, styrofoam containers from meat or dairy, several boxes, small cartons, and so on. All of these just get dumped.
This is a story that takes place in almost every house. Just imagine the sheer weight of all that waste from so many different houses all across the world.
Now, think of a restaurant. They buy so much food in bulk, and all that packaging is just thrown in the trash. Additionally, any food waste is also just thrown away, adding to the amount of built-up waste. These are just two possible examples. We produce waste almost all the time in our lives. The crazy amount of non-biodegradable waste in the world is a huge problem right now.
This is where zero waste comes in. Zero waste is way more than just eliminating waste through recycling and reuse, it focuses on reducing waste by restructuring the process of production and distribution to stop waste from being manufactured in the first place. Zero waste is more of a goal or ideal rather than a hard target. It is an effort to increase the sustainability of our way of living with the resources that we have on hand. It basically deals with the life cycle of the resources that we use, and how to redesign them to make resources be multi-use and easily recycled. It is the effort for the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without contaminating the land, water, or air. Zero waste strives to ensure that products are designed to be repaired, refurbished, re-manufactured and generally reused. Zero waste is a goal, a process, a way of thinking that profoundly changes our approach to resources and production.
In our everyday life, there are so many small ways that we can turn to zero waste. Continuing with the previous examples, in the case of the supermarket, carrying your own bags and containers will make a huge difference. Even carrying around your own waterbottle and not relying on store-bought plastic bottles will cut down on a huge amount of daily waste. Buying meat directly from a butcher instead of depending on prepackaged meat also helps this cause. From a zero waste standpoint, buying milk in glass bottles that can be washed, returned, and reuse is much better than buying milk in a bag or in plastic. In this way, the use of plastic and cartons is decreased and even the production of these materials decreases, leading to a decrease in the production of future waste. In the case of a kitchen, both domestic or commercial, a huge difference can be made through the practice of composting. Composting is basically taking food waste and putting them in a separate bin so that they can be used for other purposes, like fertilizer. This effort, no matter how big or small will have a positive impact.
Zero waste identifies wasteful behavior to avoid and almost always shows a way to fix it. It requires that we maximize our efforts to reuse, while both creating and applying methods that eliminate destructive things like incineration. It is a way to prevent wasteful and polluting practices in our lives.
People who advocate the life of zero waste are forced to find creative ways to make sure that they can follow and stay on track with their commitment. Here are a few ways that anyone can participate in zero waste because any contribution to reducing mass waste is a good contribution.
Try to stop buying new clothes
Go through your wardrobe and donate or sell items that you either don’t wear or don’t need and make new outfits with what you decide to keep. Throughout the year, if you realize you require more clothes, try to thrift them or buy secondhand.
Order less takeout.
Put an effort into cooking and eating at home. If you really do want to eat from a restaurant, bring your own glass container (or any non-plastic reusable container) and take home any leftovers for you to eat later, instead of leaving it to go to waste. Additionally, you can carry your own metal straw, and eco-friendly, reusable bamboo cutlery.
Try to use more reusable and eco-friendly products
A small way to start would be to get rid of your normal toothbrush and switch to a bamboo toothbrush. These have compostable handles. In the case of soap or shampoo, there are many DIY recipes, and also places that you can buy these products in metal containers that can be reused.
Buy new things as you run out
Commit to buying new food only when you’ve eaten almost all perishable items from your fridge. This way, you’ll be able to see exactly what you need, and you won’t buy more than necessary, nor will you lose track of your produce. Try to look at the food you have available to you, and make something delicious with that, instead of buying more food without finishing what you already have.
Assess your life
Observe the way you live and find out the areas in which you create the most waste, and try to tackle that first. Focusing on small areas instead of trying to make a big change to your whole life at the same time will be more effective and give you better results and motivation. Focus on small areas in which you can be zero waste, and prioritize the steps you want to take.
Zero waste is definitely not something that takes place overnight. If takes commitment and work to fulfill this responsibility but the fruits are so much better than just a pile of garbage in the trash can. The goal of this movement is to attain a state of zero waste, but it is not exactly attainable in the world we live in right now. Striving toward the smallest amount of waste is accepted. Whenever possible, recycle or compost. Reuse an old item for something new, donate your stuff, or gift them to friends. Do whatever you can in any small way to reach the ultimate goal of zero waste living, which is to keep the matter out of landfills.