Have you heard the term Zero Waste before? I know! It sounds like something from the Twilight Zone, not the movie! But the TV series. Yes, you may think there is not such a thing as ZERO waste, and you may be correct. How about if we call it low waste instead? NOW it sounds more realistic. I have learned Zero Waste is an ideal goal, but realistically, it is more like low waste, which is how I have implemented it. Believe it or not, it has been one of the key players in my journey. This April 22nd is Earth Day, and I would like to dedicate this month to share my Zero Waste journey toward a simpler life. In today’s post, we will discuss the basics.
What really is Zero Waste?
Basically, waste is the trash we send to the landfill and end up contaminating our natural resources and contributing to global warming. Zero Waste is an ideal goal to countermeasure the effect caused by our waste and wasteful use of our natural resources. This is a movement for some but also a lifestyle for many. However, this ideal goal most of the time is not achievable due to our linear economy (take-make-dispose), which makes it challenging to have no waste at all. So, what is the solution then? A redefined Zero Waste goal to try to minimize our waste as much as we can within our means, nicknamed low waste. If you can achieve Zero Waste that is great! If not, and you are doing your best, then that is great as well.
How to go Zero Waste?
There are many ways to go Zero Waste—all based on 5 fundamental principles which define how to do this. Now, don’t stress out if, for some reason, you can’t follow these principles for every single item coming into your life.
Refuse – Say NO if you don’t need it. Think about all those freebies you get from companies or at hotels. Most of the time, these are made of cheap materials that will end up in the landfill. Others are single-use; hence they will end up in the landfill.
Reduce – Don’t need it, don’t buy it. So, always ask yourself if you really need it. This principle also applies to how we utilized our natural resources. Let’s be mindful of our needs.
Reuse – Give your items a second chance. Sometimes we have things that fulfill their purposes but could be re-purposed. Last year I decluttered my house, and all I used for organizing were re-purposed items. I didn’t buy a single organizer bin or similar. Other things still usable, but YOU don’t have a use for them anymore. Then find a second home for these items. I have given away items on Facebook Market and to family and friends.
Recycle – If nothing else, then put it in the recycling bin. This is not the goal, but more like the last resource if nothing else works. The truth is, only around 40% of the items in your recycling bin will actually be recycled. On top of that, some things like plastic can be recycled for a finite amount of time and will eventually end up in the landfill or contaminating our natural resources.
Rot – Compost your organic waste. These can’t decompose in the landfill. There is no environment for them to do so. Instead, this organic waste will contaminate and contribute to global warming in the form of methane emissions.
Why to even bother?
In short, our Earth can’t take it anymore and is calling for us to help. What would happen if we eat plastic? We will get sick, right? Our bodies were not designed to process plastic. Now, what happens if you are served plastic for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day? Eventually, your body will fail. The same is happening to our Earth. All our waste is not part of the Earth’s natural process. Our Earth just can’t handle it. If you want to learn more about what happens with all our waste, see The Story of Stuff. Really good as a starting point to understand the life-cycle of our stuff. If you want to know more about Zero Waste, here an excellent blog to get you started.
Just remember, in this economy we live in, there is not such a thing as Zero Waste, but low waste can be achievable. It’s a long journey, but once you adopt it as a lifestyle, it will become part of your routine. Let’s make April Earth Month and go back to the basics. We only have one Earth, one Home, one Chance. In my next post, I will share the benefits of Zero Waste.
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