Table of Contents
Going Zero Waste – Better For You, Better For Plannet
“Instead of discarding resources, we create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system.”
What is Zero Waste?
We aim to send nothing to landfill. We reduce what we need, reuse as much as we can, send little to be recycled, and compost what we cannot. It’s really about redefining the system. We currently live in a linear economy where we take resources from the earth and then dump them in a giant hole in the ground. The goal of going zero waste is to move to a circular economy mimics nature in that there is no trash in nature.
What is wrong with landfills?
These Posters Shine A Light On A Huge Problem
“A small thing like a straw created so much pain to an animal like that sea turtle,”
We live in a disposal society where we don’t value our belongings, and we’re consuming too many resources. Beyond our overconsumption problem, landfills are toxic. They’re responsible for 20% of the me-thane emissions in the US, and they aren’t aerated for proper decomposition of natural materials. Toxins from cleaners, batteries, small electronics (and other items) leach into the soil and can run off into the ocean and ground water when it rains.
A lot of trash doesn’t even make it to the landfill. Instead it clutters the sides of roads and swirls in the ocean. Plastic is especially dangerous to the ocean, marine life, and our health. It doesn’t biodegrade it photodegrades which means it only gets smaller and smaller.
There’s simply too much to process, and we’re just consuming way too much. Recycling isn’t a perfect solution. While it plays into the solution, we have to lessen our dependence. Did you know, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled? There’s a reason recycle is LAST. “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Recycle shouldn’t be the first line of defense, it should be a last resort.
Most of our recycling isn’t even processed in the US. It’s processed in China, and China has put a band on paper and plastic bales over 1% contamination. To put this in perspective, the best recycling facilities in the US are currently operating at 4% contamination level. I’m not telling you this so you can recycle better and depend on it less.
Can We Recycle Our Way Out Of This?
What is reducing and reusing?
You don’t need everything you think you “need”. So many products are sold to us for specific use. But, you don’t need a seperate cleaner for the floor, the windows, and the bathrooms. You don’t need eight blue sweaters. By reducing what we need, we’re re-ducing what we’ll eventually throw out.
“Before making any purchase, wait. Spend some time, think about whether or not you truly need it.”
When you do need to buy something, check the second hand market first. Reuse something that already exists, and instead of using disposables focus on reusables (i.e. hankies instead of tissues.) which will intern also reduce what you need.
Top 10 to Get Started Going Zero Waste:
- Replace your tissue with handkerchief.
- Use dish towels. It has many uses for good dish towels.
- Replace your food container with sustainable materials like glass, silicone or stainless. They are the two most reusable products and you don’t have to worry about contamination.
- Always bring your water bottle.
- Switch plastic bags with reusable produce bag made with fabric or rattan.
- Go to farmers market or avoid to buy prepackaged goods.
- Use reusable sponge and rags. Always dry your rags in the sun and try to grow loofah in your backyard.
- Use compostable toothbrush.
- Replace aluminium foil or plastic wrap with reusable stretch lids used for preservation.
With just one small step at a time, you can greatly reduce your footprint. But, going zero waste isn’t just great for the environment, you will notice an improvement in your quality of life. Side effects include eating better, feeling better, even saving money.
How long will this take?
Every day you have the decision to positively impact the planet. How do you get to work? How do you buy your groceries? What are you eating? What are you buying? Everything is interconnected. Every purchase you make is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.
We live in a society of instant gratification. Going Zero Waste is not conducive to that attitude. It takes time and patience. We tend to beat ourselves up for not being perfect, but in the beginning you’re not going to be perfect. It’s about the effort. It’s knowing that you want to change; It’s knowing you’re trying Going Zero Waste.
And, seriously – thank you for trying Going Zero Waste! Together we can make a difference, and maybe in our lifetime we can see the Great Pacific Garbage Patch disappear, significantly reduce the amount of waste go into landfills, and become healthier and more fulfilled as people.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.