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An Introduction to Zero Waste

What is zero waste?

Zero waste is about reducing the amount of waste we produce, by rethinking our consumer lifestyles and making better informed decisions about the products we use.

Zero Waste is not about perfection or simply fitting your yearly household waste into a jar (although that would be pretty damn impressive!), but about each of us trying to do our bit for our planet, to reduce the demand for resources and power, to limit the harm we cause through pollution and global warming, to live in harmony with nature rather than destroying it.

Why is zero waste important?

Our consumer economy and demand for new and ‘better’ things has, through high demand for energy and resources, ultimately led to the destruction of our natural world.

Global warming, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, air pollution, soil infertility, biodiversity loss, micro-plastics pollution, habitat destruction, desertification and extreme weather patterns are all consequences of us taking far more from the planet than is necessary or sustainable. On top of that, once we have taken what we need to produce our shiny new things, we are then throwing our older (or slightly less shiny) things into landfills, shipping our waste around the world, burning it, dropping it in the streets and letting it leach into our water supplies. There are many changes needed to tackle climate change and the environmental damage we have caused, but a simple and effective change that can be made at a personal level is to go zero waste.

What about recycling?

Recycling is great – please don’t stop! But it’s not enough to get us out of this disaster… For example, think of a plastic water bottle. You can recycle a plastic bottle, so it doesn’t need to go to landfill and leach methane into the atmosphere, but consider all the materials and energy required to produce, store, package and transport that bottle, for it to be used just once and then put in the bin.

Yes, plastic can be recycled, but only a handful of times before degradation of the material ceases to make recycling a viable option and even then, would the energy and resources used to produce the bottle not be better invested in long-life items that can be reused? Recycling has its place for now, but it’s not the answer and it won’t be enough. We need to stop creating so much waste in the first place.

"Recycling in particular has long served as a balm and a penance - a way of making it okay to waste, the assumption being that if something is recycled, then the energy and materials are not being lost, and our disposable economy of abundance doesn't really seem so wasteful after all." Ed Humes, Garbology

Where do I start?

Going zero waste can seem like an insurmountable task, but never fear – we are here to make this journey as easy as possible for you.

Firstly, please understand that within our current system, it is nearly impossible to live completely zero waste. Even if you aren’t sending any waste to landfill from your home, there will still likely be energy waste, waste from the production of your clothes and household items, waste from medical treatments and waste from the infrastructure that surrounds us. It is important not to let this overwhelm you, but to simply take one step at a time towards a more sustainable way of life. The fact that you are here, reading this blog, is a great start and we can’t wait to help you along the way.

For now, take stock of your life, your home, your work. Which areas are creating the most waste?

Are you eating lots of yummy take-out and then throwing away loads of takeaway containers?

Are you going to the shops without your own reusable bags and creating a gigantic plastic bag shrine under your stairs?

Are you buying a coffee every morning in a single use cup and throwing it in the bin at the office?

Once you’ve worked out the areas where you are creating the most waste, take some time to consider what you could do to change just one thing. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to start your zero waste journey!

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