So… What is zero waste?

Zero waste is about sending zero trash into landfills, and wasting zero resources. It’s about reducing waste, sending as little trash as possible to be recycled and composting the rest.

Where does it come from? 

The practice of zero waste has strong ties to the circular economy model – a “regenerative system in which resource input, waste, emissions and energy leakage are minimised by slowing, closing, and narrowing material and energy loops.”

At the moment, our economy operates mostly on a linear economy model. We take resources, make products out of them, and then dispose of these products in a landfill. Most economists view GDP growth – which is tied to levels of consumption – as a key measure of economic success, and as consumers we strive to accumulate branded possessions.

Zero waste refuses the old frameworks of measuring economic success.

Growth isn’t great if it harms the planet. As zero waste practitioners, we apply a circular system inspired by successful circular processes in nature and apply this to the way we go about life. If our economy was a circular economy, this would be easy! Personally, I don’t find zero waste living very “hard”, but, to be honest, it is challenging at times. We’re steered by urban design, advertising and cultural norms to act in ways that aren’t in alignment with zero waste values. In order to be zero waste, you need to ignore the linear economy around you and carve out your own path.

Why this blog? 

I started out this blog to document my journey towards zero waste living, and provide tips, resources and inspiration for anybody who wants to join me on this path. It’s been incredibly rewarding, both personally and professionally (link to next post), to change my lifestyle and take charge of my footprint.

What about Recycling? 

Recycling is a method of waste-management, but not a full-scale solution. Ideally we would re-use all our packaging, and have no trash, and no recycling trash, but I’ve never heard of a zero-waster that doesn’t recycle anything at all. While glass can be recycled with almost no loss in quality, plastic can only be down-cycled. This means it gets “recycled” into a lower quality plastic during each recycling cycle (link), and eventually ends up in a landfill. Personally, I aim to avoid ALL plastic waste, but am more lenient with glass.

So, what can I do? Where do I get started?

Check out the “Getting Started” section of my blog for tips on how to start your own journey towards a zero waste lifestyle. Email me to hey@greenthefuture.co if you’re stuck and need some input to find the right zero waste solutions. It’s also super helpful to join one of the larger zero waste Facebook groups.

More Resources

I am still in the process of building up the “Zero Waste 101” section on this site. In the meantime, check out Bea Johnson’s blog zerowastehome.org, Kathryn Kellog’s blog goingzerowaste.com, or Lauren Singer’s site Trash is for Tossers for more tips and resources on making your transition.