For those of you who don’t feel like reading the whole blog post here is the short answer… THERE IS NO SUCH THING! “What?” I hear you all screaming. That’s right, there is no such thing! I will explain. Zero waste is a movement that was originated from the business world. They had the goal of sending nothing to landfill, but here in 2021 it has become so much more. Zero waste is now a lifestyle that more and more of us are choosing to adopt and it simply means we are on a journey to minimise the amount of waste we produce, whether that be in the general rubbish bins (or trash cans) or even recycling. Yes you read that right – recycling – but more on that later.
I will talk more about this later in the week, but ultimately we live in a society not designed for zero waste living and we are human beings, which means we are innately imperfect. Therefore, it is impossible for us to live a completely perfectly zero waste life. That is great though, because that means that provided you are making steps to reduce your waste, you too are living a zero waste lifestyle.
One of the biggest materials people who are adopting a zero-waste lifestyle like to remove is plastics. But why is this? It’s because plastics never go away, which is sad. The idea that every plastic item I have ever used still exists kind of blows my mind. Another reason why this is often the first place people start is because it is one of the easiest things to begin to reduce due to the fact that it, as a material, dominates our lives.
“But hang on Lottie, we don’t need to cut out plastic because that’s what recycling is for”, I am sure you are thinking. Unfortunately, while recycling is an amazing concept, it isn’t as simple as that. Recycling is an great ideal but there are lots of plastics which actually can’t be recycled. I will enlighten you more about this in future blogs. Another issue is that recycling in itself uses an awful lot of energy to actually undertake, meaning while you are trying to reduce waste in one way you are actually creating waste in another way. Confusing I know. And because of this we simply don’t have the resources to actually recycle all of the plastic produced.
So what about the plastic that does get recycled? Well that is great, of course! But, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, currently there isn’t a wide range of uses for recycled materials. Another problem is that even if the plastics that do get recycled do get used, there is a limited number of times that plastics can be recycled so effectively by recycling plastic you are simply delaying the time before the plastic ultimately ends up in the land fill.
So where do I start?
Okay, so that was pretty sad to read and I am sorry about that but now for the good news. As strange as this might sound, my suggestion for where to start is to do nothing. Yep, NOTHING! In order to make the first steps on your sustainability journey, it is important to take an honest look at where you are at right now. I just would like to add here that this isn’t something to be ashamed of or be disheartened by. By simply reading this you are clearly wanting to make positive steps – so congratulations!
What I would like you to do is first look around you, wherever you are, think about the items in the room and identify what you really need. Note, I am not saying get rid of anything but it is important to get into the mindset of realising what is essential.
The next step you want to take is to have a look in your kitchen and bathroom or any other places that you regularly bring products into. Have a look and identify the excess packaging. Again, don’t do anything about it at this stage, just notice it. Finally, once you have done that, spend a week or so living your life normally and just be conscious about what exactly you are throwing away.
I realise this sounds a bit strange as I am sure you were expecting me to tell you to start right away and go in all guns blazing, but it is better to sit back and highlight the big problem areas in your life first so you can tackle the issue rather than blindly trying to fix something when you don’t know what it is that you are trying to fix.
Zero Waste – Why bother?
It is human nature so don’t be ashamed of this feeling, but I am sure some of you are thinking “that’s great but it doesn’t benefit me”. Oh how wrong you are – sorry was that harsh? By reducing your waste it can actually benefit your lives in so many ways. First of all, it will save you money – there are a lot of companies taking advantage of the trend that sustainability is becoming and are producing products you don’t need. Welcome to consumerism. This whole blog will be about showing you how living sustainably can be really good for your wallet, not just the planet.
Once you have got in the mindset of not producing waste, you will tend to buy less. This, in turn, will also naturally cause less clutter in your lives which, despite what we are made to believe, will actually make you happier and less stressed in the long run.
Finally, by going zero-waste, you will begin to have a lot more control over what goes in and on your body. You will reduce the amount of preservatives and harmful chemicals from mass produced food and products which will ultimately make you more healthy. For me personally, I have had a slightly turbulent relationship with my body and food but since going zero-waste I have noticed my weight has settled, my skin has got a lot clearer and (sorry TMI) but my tummy has got a lot more settled.
I hope this has helped to give you an insight into what I will be banging on about and also inspired you to give it a go. Do let me know your thoughts on what I have written by commenting below and, as ever, do get in contact for a chat if you have any further suggestions.