My journey started a long time ago when I was drinking water out of plastic bottles, and something in my guts told me,’ this can’t be good for you.’ After hours of research, I found out that I was right. I wondered what the next best step would be? This was when I stumbled across zero waste. But what is zero waste, and how easy can you implement it in your busy life?
Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources using responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health. ~ wiki
- In a nutshell, it is a way of life! An almost minimalistic approach.
- It is a way to consume differently without just chucking everything in the bin and hoping the weekly rubbish guys will take care of it.
- It is about living more mindfully.
Why not put it in a big hole?
The problem with putting it in landfills is that it can release toxins. Batteries, Televisions, and computers get thrown out, and they contain substances like arsenic, acids, lead, and others, which eventually end up in our environment. They seep into the soil and groundwater due to rainfall.
More than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day – a total of about 22 billion last year
A lot of our trash doesn’t even make it to landfills. It gets thrown on the ground or blown off the truck and finally ends up in the ocean. Plastic is one of those big evil guys that we are trying to cut out here. It is the leading cause of death in marine life. 1 million seabirds die from plastic each year and 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement due to fisheries discarding the nets into the ocean.
Ok, but let’s take a quick look at a landfill.
What is a landfill?
There are two different types of landfill.
- A dump where we bury all of the trash in a big open hole. Lots of rodents find a way to it, and you see the vultures circling in the sky. This is what most people think of a landfill.
- A landfill is built on top or into the ground. Isolated by a plastic liner and covered daily with soil. It is an anaerobic environment, meaning no air can get to it and help decomposition.
The linear economy vs. the circular economy
Perhaps this is a good attempt for a new way of living. It is quite controversial, hence why I like it so much. More and more of my friends are living a minimalist lifestyle. Perhaps this is the solution to a lot of our problems.
It is not a zero waste documentary, but a must-watch for you new thinkers out there.
Is Zero Waste even possible?
When I talk about ‘zero waste,’ the most common reaction I get is, “That’s impossible…how can you expect to create NO trash at all??!” And yes, in some way, you are right. It is impossible not to create any trash. But we can, however take steps in the right direction. May it be reusing more items or reducing the way we consume. This part is also very welcoming to your wallet.
We are all part of the economic waste stream. Our purchases produce waste that we do not see, both upstream and downstream.
Zero waste seeks to combat the disposable mindset by returning to a more sustainable and straightforward way of life. Zero waste is a journey.
Isn’t it just a new fad?
I don’t think it is, and we can see many examples today where big companies are changing the packaging. Supermarket chains all over the world are starting to leave packaging entirely behind. Starbucks is dropping the straw in 2020. Hi Fly is the first airline to use only biodegradable utensils.
- As of August 2017, anyone in Kenya who’s found using, producing, or selling a plastic bag faces up to four years in jail or a $38,000 fine.
- On July 30, 2017, its independence day, Vanuatu’s Pacific nation announced the beginning of a phasing out of plastic bags and bottles. When implemented, it will ban the use or importation of single-use plastic bags and bottles — and it will make Vanuatu the first Pacific country to launch such a ban.
3. New Zealand
- Supermarkets have stopped handing out single-use plastic bags all over the country. A group of supermarkets abandoned plastic wrapping for virtually all of their fruit and vegetables in a project labeled ‘food in the nude.’ Sales have spiked up to 300% for some fruit and veggies.
What can I do today?
Living a zero waste lifestyle is not only for those who want to leave a healthy planet for our children behind. It’s for everyone, but it requires a bit of rethinking and changing old habits. Most importantly, you will notice just how easy it is.
So, what steps can I take today:
- bring your own shopping bag
- say “no” to straws
- have a reusable drinking bottle
- become aware of what you have in your fridge and see how easy you can change it.
Interestingly in my research, I found that whichever direction I try to turn I am going to end up a hypocrite in one way or another.
I love coffee… I mean, who doesn’t love the most accepte
While I look for coffee that is sustainably grown and fairtrade, it still ends up being packaged in some form of plastic bag. Even when it looks like a paper bag, there is still a skinny liner of plastic on the inside.
Related: Are Coffee Cups Recyclable?
I am looking for something right here, but I still get screwed. So should I just quit drinking coffee?
Oh, and not to mention the travel most coffee beans do. From the farm to the bin onto the plane to our supermarket… Yeah, see, you get the picture.
So while by no means this zero waste blog is designed to convert you into something you are not, I will share ways to reduce the impact on the environment. But be warned, it isn’t always going to work out perfectly.
I still type on a computer with parts from all around the world, they put fruit on the front, but that doesn’t make it organic.
I wear shoes with a rubber sole, and oh my UGG boots. Apparently, those sheep weren’t too happy to give me their skin to wear around my feet.
You get the big picture: It is not about perfection; it is about making better choices.
But by no means is this a woman dominating field. It affects all of us, and we all need to step up and make a difference. This is not how mother earth intended for us to use her.
The History of zero waste
Since the beginning of human history, we have created waste.
Apparently 6500 BC the native American clan would produce an average of 5.3 pounds of waste per day. ~ environmentalchemistry.com
Jump forward to 1842, England, the age of sanitation, began. People were throwing food and even body parts out of the window. The stray dogs would come and pick it up, but it was also the cause of many diseases. Man, I am glad those days are over.
The main difference between then and now was that the waste back then was all biodegradable. Ugh, imagine the smells.
Now we don’t even know what happens to our rubbish.
So conveniently, we put our trash in the recycling bin. Giving us the sense of, ah, we have done a good deed. Surely this isn’t going to end up in the ocean or even in the food chain. Or is it?
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