The Zero Waste International Alliance defines zero waste as “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”
It’s a trend that’s been growing in popularity in recent years. But what does “zero” waste really mean? And how can you start to reduce the waste in your life today?
Overconsumption is a massive problem for so many of us, as throwing things away has become second nature. This overconsumption is harmful to our planet as it depletes finite resources and both production and disposal lead to greenhouse gas emissions.
Globally, we generated around 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (essentially anything that isn’t sewerage or construction debris) in 2016. Of this waste, only 19% was recovered through recycling and composting. Instead, the majority of our waste is disposed of in landfill, openly dumped, or incinerated. The amount of waste we generate is predicted to grow by 70% over the next 30 years unless we make some serious changes.
When talking about zero waste, you might hear people refer to a “circular economy”. A circular economy is a regenerative approach to economic development, which aims to “design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems.”
Essentially, creating new and unnecessary products from finite resources isn’t working for our environment. When you find a need for something in your life, think about “refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle” before opting for a brand new purchase. Recycling should be your last resort, as it’s still harmful to our environment, and most recycling is done in developing nations where they then have to suffer the consequences of our consumption.
The two main areas of your life that generate a high amount of waste are in the kitchen and the bathroom.
Here are our tips for reducing your kitchen waste:
Here are our tips for reducing your bathroom waste:
We hope that this gives you a brief introduction to the concept of zero waste living and that you’ll implement some of these easy tips into your daily life. And remember, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”