The zero waste movement is a global initiative aiming to eliminate garbage output and address the flawed system of which we produce, consume, and dispose of our items. It is a movement that can not be done alone, requires a community of individuals and organizations bonding together, and is a journey everyone needs to embark upon before it’s too late. As I’ve stated in previous posts, zero waste is about how we are living, what we are buying, and how we are using what we already have.
The zero waste movement goes beyond what actually shows up in your kitchen garbage can. In fact, according to Eco-Cycle Solutions, the waste we see in our trash can is only a small fraction of the total waste created in achieving the products we throw away. For example, they say that for every full garbage can in your home, there are 87 more caused by the line of production.
Zero waste is the idea that all resources must be carefully conserved. This is achieved through responsible production, consumption, and recovery of what we use, and includes packaging and materials that products come in. The goal is to strive towards sustainability in all aspects of consumption, without any burning or waste run off into the land, water or air. Ultimately, unresponsible natural resource extraction, manufacturing, distribution, and disposal of products have many negative consequences on every living organism, including humans.
So why is the Zero Waste Movement so important to the planet and our lives? The simplest way to think about this concept is that zero waste actions are linked to impacting larger environmental issues. Some of these issues include climate change, biodiversity loss, ecosystem destruction, and even human health risks. Our population keeps growing, and with it we keep depleting natural resources. The Earth cannot keep up with wasteful habits, and at some point it will no longer withstand the pressures of negative human impact, causing nature to crumble beneath our feet.
Every individual sits in a very particular position, with the power to control how the systems of production works. This is because we, as consumers, are at the end of the line. We can control the rate in which something is produced and how manufacturing systems are designed just by our purchasing choices. For example, we can do this by refusing or boycotting unsustainable practices and products (not buying them). We can take this concept a step further by standing up to businesses and advocating for change. And finally, we can practice zero waste habits ourselves to be role models for others, especially youth.
Being part of the zero waste movement is a choice every person can make to support others in Earth friendly actions and products. A proud zero-waster is someone who believes in the reasons and importance behind reducing all types of waste. If you are looking for a few easy steps to get started as a zero-waster, look no further! Below I have a few suggestions that are easy to implement, easy to do from the comfort of your own home, and are ways in which you can show your devoted support to this movement community.
How to Start Supporting the Zero Waste Movement
Don’t throw your glass jars away – they can be used for so many versatile duties from fridge pickles to storage of first aid supplies. Reusing and up-cycling is an important step towards creating a positive environmental impact from the products we purchase.
Conduct a waste audit for one room in your house – doing a waste audit shows us what our own garbage looks like and what the next steps to reducing it could be. This is something everyone can do, even kids. Starting with one room helps narrow our thoughts about the way we consume and makes us focus on small changes, making each one at a time.
Shop local – shopping locally eliminates the long distances other products might travel to get to you, which contributes to greenhouse emissions. Local breweries, bakeries, and farm fresh eggs are all great places to start!
Try making your own snacks – snack waste is one of the largest contributors to food packaging. Making your own once in a while will reduce highly processed foods, therefore reducing unresponsible manufacturing. I say once in a while, because sometimes convenience is what you might require, but not depending on convenience 100% of the time could make a huge impact in the long run. The easiest switch for me was eating popcorn instead of crackers or chips. Buying kernels in bulk or large plastic jugs eliminates the non recyclable waste, and it is easy to make even on the stove top!
Switch to bar soap – due to the nature of liquid soap, it always comes in a bottle. Most of the time, those bottles are made of raw material instead of post consumer waste. Bar soap comes in many different forms… hand soap, body washing soap, shampoo, conditioner, and even dish soap blocks. Lastly, some think that when having guests over bar soap can seem unsanitary. But let me remind you, a bar of soap is still soap. It cleans bacteria, germs, and viruses away with lather and suds. If you are still not convinced, and prefer to have liquid soap for visiting guests, you can always have a bottle of soap handy just for them to use during their stay.
Join in environmental action – lastly, sign up for an environmental challenge or group that will help motivate you. For the month of April 2020 I have created an Ecochallenge team with my devoted friend Rina, named Making a Pint Sized Impact. Challenges like this one are what helped me get started on my zero waste journey. It is inspiring to see what others accomplish, see sharing of ideas, and stay on track with individual action goals within the challenge. An environmental action could also mean participating in tree planting or waste cleanups. But the ecochallenge is a virtual activity, meaning no large groups of people while still contributing to your own sustainable actions.
So for the month of April, challenge yourself to an ecochallenge, join my team, and continue to make a positive environmental impact for a healthier planet in the future.