Have you ever seen those strange people doing stranger things with jars full of their own trash made in months or years? Well… they follow a zero waste lifestyle and they are the strangest people of the world. And I’d like to become one of them!
Zero waste is a culture, it is a behavior. Its goal is to pollute less through simple everyday actions that everybody can do to contribute to the protection of the environment by producing less garbage.
At first glance this concept can be scary because it seems impossible to reach. However “zero waste” doesn’t mean you make zero trash. No one can. But we can set goals that are easily achievable, which can make the difference.
Waste disposal is a big problem in our modern world of consumerism. Many people think that recycling is the solution to this problem. But it is not. It requires energy to process and it causes other pollution. We mustn’t forget, for example, that not every plastic items can be recycled and the few ones that have this chance are turned into a product that will no longer be recyclable. So they will end up in a landfill or in an incinerator, where the resource will be lost forever.
The solution is recycling less by preventing waste from coming into our home in the first place.
Recycling should be our last resort.
Also remember that what we put in our recycling bin is out of our control. I am Italian and in some areas of my country, as well as other places in the world, the waste disposal is unfortunately often in the hands of Mafia that burn or bury trash, polluting our air, our land and our water. Therefore, today reducing our waste means also fighting the criminality!
To achieve this goal there are a few steps.
- The first thing to do is looking at our trash and understand what it is. We can’t solve a problem until we know what it is, then we can eliminate it.
- Refuse to buy what we don’t need, especially disposables. For our society it seems impossible, but our grandparents did just fine without all these products not so long ago. There are reusable alternatives for every single disposable item, we just have to rediscover them.
- So focus on having only the things that are truly necessary. This is really really hard for sentimental people or crafters, like me. But if we have fewer things in our life, we will take better care of them. If they break, we can try to fix them instead of throwing them away and buy new ones.
- Stop/reduce buying packaged food. The best alternative is buying on local markets, but there are also shops where it’s possible to buy food in bulk, using your own containers or bags.
- Shop second-hand or swap your clothes instead of buying new garments and putting new waste into the waste cycle. I personally love when my friends give me their clothes that don’t fit them anymore. I like sewing and adapt them based on my size and my style.
- Start making your own products. I think it’s very important to have complete control over what we’re putting in our body or what we use to clean our home. In this way we can choose natural ingredients and avoid toxic ones.
- Reuse or repurpose things. It will be fun being creative and playing with imagination!
- And in the end, compost all the things that can be brought back into the earth.
People who have already started this journey say the benefits of living this lifestyle outweigh the negatives. The first benefit is that you’ll save money. Then you will eat better and learn how to cook. You will feel better and you’ll be happier knowing you are aligning your values with your actions.
It won’t happen overnight and it might even take years to become a “zero waste person”. But you’re already awesome for wanting to make this change!
In the course of time you will realize that these little changes add up and make a big difference.
Everyone’s zero waste journey is different. So it’s better not to compare yourself to other people. Get inspiration from them, communicate with other zero waste-ers for questions or concerns, support them and be supported by others!
So please, support me!! I’m very fascinated by this movement, but very far from being “zero waste”. I really want to become a better person and live respecting our wonderful nature as much as possible. Will you be with me?
For now, let’s do our best. Share your stories, listen to others, make room for other points of view.
Consume less and live more!
Devon E. Beasley
I am a ‘zero waster’ and this is one of the better explanations I’ve read about the topic. Anti-consumption and zero waste have a lot in common. I think the biggest difference is that zero waste has an environmental and health aspect on top of being cognizant of what you’re buying.
Thank you! I totally agree ?