What is Zero Waste?
by Diva Lopez
Let’s have a little thought exercise.
Go back to this morning when you woke up. You plop out of bed, and head towards the bathroom. As you go through your routines, how many times did you come across plastic, and not just plastic bottles or containers, but single-use plastics knowing fully well that you will be in need of a new one tomorrow, or shortly after?
Sure, you might be putting all of these things into the recycle bin, but most of the time, city recycle centers simply cannot handle all types and volume of plastics, just a few chosen ones.
And what if you live in a country with a poor waste management system; do you know where your trash ends up? Is everything just a “burnable” in the end?
Getting rid of your trash does not mean the world gets rid of it. Many of these plastics cannot be given a second life, and sadly find their way into the oceans or the atmosphere eventually. It can be rather off putting how we take care of our physical and mental health, but we pollute our environment and the other organisms we share Earth with.
By now, you might have heard of the “Zero Waste Movement”. In a nutshell, people who practice this attempt to minimize their garbage production as low as possible. The ultimate goal is to not produce waste, or to find a second or alternative use for their products. Some examples can be reusing glass bottles when buying bulk legumes, or carrying an eco-bag to avoid amassing plastic bags when shopping. I personally carry a small towel with me to avoid using paper towels in public restrooms.
In becoming a “Zerowaster”, there are four important keys to success:
- Choose re-usable alternatives (stainless steel, wood, bamboo) over single use plastics. Easy enough if you like making things from scratch! For example, using stainless steel straws or making pesto sauce from your garden does not sound bad at all, does it?
- Remember that the Zero Waste Movement is not a competition about who has the most minimal lifestyle, the most pleasing instagram feed, or the least amount of waste in a year. It is about doing what YOU can do to help out the planet.
- Knowing you don’t have to throw every plastic away to achieve perfection in your home. However, if you do, donate as much as you can. Try not to send things to a landfill; every item sent there is a lost battle.
- Organization is key to avoid plastics on the streets. Think ahead - Will I be thirsty? I should pack my bottle of water. Will I buy something? I will pack my reusable bag just in case. Will we eat out? I will bring my reusable cloth napkin.
Reducing your total waste production is a process. No one does it from one day to the next. If and when you decide to embark on this journey, do not be harsh on yourself. Mistakes happen, but we learn from them, and more often than not, they inspire us to become better global citizens.