Zero Waste

What is it?

Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills or incinerators. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.

That’s a dictionary definition.. To put it more simply, zero waste is a lifestyle rooted in behavioral change resulting in the reuse of non-perishable items. In economic terms, zero waste is modeled after a circular economy which is explained in the picture below.

zerowaste1

 

Btw, if you haven’t had a chance to check out eco-cycle, feel free to do so now!

How does zero waste benefit our economy?

Reducing and reusing materials create even more jobs in rental and sharing businesses (e.g. car-sharing, tool rental), repair and tailoring, and reuse businesses. Local money is spent on local jobs and stays within the community instead of leaving the community to buy imported products.

How does zero waste benefit our community?

Zero waste promotes social equity and builds community. A zero waste approach can build community capacity, support marginalized communities and protect community health.

Community-based zero waste strategies like composting at a community garden, tool sharing and skills sharing to reuse and repair, build capacity to reduce waste and costs.

A zero waste strategy needs to ensure everyone has access to tools to reduce, reuse and recycle waste where they live, work and play. This allows everyone to participate in protecting our environment.

A zero waste approach also protects the health of communities by reducing pollution in the air, water and soil by keeping toxics and waste out of landfills and incinerators.

How can you start moving toward zero waste?

I want to be very frank here. Not everyone cares. And that’s okay. If you’re reading this then you care. The capacity for each individual to change their behavior will vary greatly but if you’re here then I am here with you and for you. What is listed below is not in order of importance. These steps can be done simultaneously or randomly when it fits for you and your lifestyle. I’m taking a different approach here. This is not about the environment, this is about people, but more specifically its about you living a life presently and actively. So here are some ways you can change up your routine:

  1. Take note of your daily routine!!! Do you go to Starbucks every morning? Do you use travel floss sticks? How often do you pack your lunch? Paying attention to your habits is the most important step. Lots of people who are starting their zero waste journey begin by collecting all the trash they produce in a day, week or month. This helps them see, first-hand, the impact their life is having on the planet.
  2. Make a small behavioral change. You will feel like a weight has been lifted off of your chest. The first small change I made was substituting paper towels with a reusable cloth napkin in my lunches. This small change eventually grew to the point where I was no longer using paper towels to clean up small messes in the kitchen or wipe down the counters.
  3. Make a small purchasing change. Buying a new toothbrush? Get a compostable one. Need some hair ties? Go plastic free. Starbucks? Bring your own cup. When you make these small changes you are not only voting with your dollar, but you are investing in yourself. Everyday actions that you used to give no thought to, you are now navigating with an open and energized mind. Heck, you’ll start to see it everywhere, how disconnected people are to their own purchasing habits.
  4. Make a small social change. See some litter on the ground? Pick it up. A sprite bottle in the trash bin? Take it out and recycle it. Out to dinner with friends? Ask to take their food scraps home so you can compost them. That cashier still placing your items in a plastic bag even though you asked for no bag? Reiterate your desire. Be present in these moments and lead by example.
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