What is Zero Waste?

Zero waste is a concept that attempts to create a lifestyle that will not create any waste or trash that would be sent to landfills, incinerators, or into the ocean. This is done by using materials and items that are reusable or compostable. The zero waste movement is gaining more and more attention as our landfills continue to fill up and trash is found in the most remote places.

Going zero waste requires us to break our habits and begin to create new ones. One of the easiest ways to begin switching to a zero waste lifestyle is to use more reusable items or compostable items and lessen our use of one-time use items, such as paper or plastic plates, cups, and utensils. Instead of grabbing a bottled water, we can use a tumbler and water filter for our water needs. Instead of using paper or plastic products we can switch to wooden products that are compostable and create less of an impact on the waste created. Not only would going zero waste help our environment and reduce waste, it also helps us to save money as we would be able to reuse the items instead of having to continuously rebuy the one time use items.

Understandably zero waste is not simple to do as habits are ingrained in us and it seems that everything we buy comes in some kind of plastic packaging. If complete avoidance is not possible we can still do our best to recycle. According to research only 8-9% of our plastic use is currently recycled. The remaining 90+% is sent to landfills or finds itself floating down into the ocean. Microplastics has even been found in the Mariana Trench which is the deepest known place on the planet. Also, in order to become completely zero waste we would need the cooperation of manufacturers all over the world to restructure their production and distribution methods to eliminate or minimize waste. However, we can make small changes in our own lifestyles to help combat the pollution and waste that is being created. Even if we do not go completely zero waste we can keep that as a goal and try our best until we reach it.

Here are a few easy swaps we can make to attempt a zero waste lifestyle.

  • Cotton towels/napkins instead of paper towels/napkins.
  • Composting food waste
  • Insulated water bottles for cool and hot drinks
  • Reusable silicon bags instead of Ziplocs
  • Beeswax wraps instead of plastic wraps