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  • G.E Young

What does Zero Waste really mean?

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

What does 'going zero waste' really mean?

It can seem quite simple. But when thinking about the practicalities, the reality is that a zero-waste lifestyle can seem expensive, impractical and in some cases inaccessible. The aim of a zero-waste lifestyle is to redefine the systems we have and send nothing to landfill.

What does 'redefining the system' mean? Currently, we are living in a world where we consume products, plastic and resources at an unnatural and unsustainable rate. Zero waste living aims to slow this down and consume what we really need and produce less waste. Katheryn at GoingZeroWaste defines it as "We reduce what we need, reuse as much as we can, send little to be recycled, and compost what we cannot.".

The problems with landfill are quite well known, they produce large quantities of toxic gases such as methane and that they aren't able to decompose waste correctly. Plastic pollution is a result of plastic not making it to landfill, and this can cause damage to our oceans. In the current way we live, it's about where you want to send your polluting waste. To a big pile of increasing problems or spread out on the earth surface or in the sea for poor animals to live amongst. Unfortunately, recycling isn't the solution either. It does help the issue, but because of the rate and quantity, we consume it isn't the first line of defence. So what can we do then?

Ideally, we need to focus on reducing and the reusing part before recycling. This is where being a conscious consumer comes in and making your sustainable swaps makes a real difference. Buy what you actually need and try not to get sucked into the constant marketing and advertising suggesting you need something that you don't. Fast fashion is really bad for this but so is the cleaning industry. Do you really need a bathroom floor cleaner, window cleaner, kitchen floor cleaner, sink, taps... The list goes on! It's about being conscious of what you actually need and do regularly use. In many cases, a multi-surface cleaner will do just fine. The next step is focusing on reusing what you already have. This means repurposing items and upcycling. This is the fun part, creating something new can be exciting as well as useful. Before you know it you're living a low waste lifestyle and on your way to zero waste!

Like I have said in many of my other blogs, it's not about disposing of everything have and starting fresh with only jars of rice and loose leaf tea in your kitchen, or buying gallons of white vinegar and essential oils to replace your current cleaning products. In most cases, it isn't practical or affordable to live this way. But use what you have, keep things such as old jars and cleaning spray bottles and see if you have a local refill store to buy your usual pasta and multi-surface cleaning products from. Going zero waste and helping our planet is a process that we all need to start, but is just that a process.

Don't feel bad if you never get there and you still use baby wipes and don't drive an electric car. The point is to do what you can and what is manageable for you. Zero waste is a huge lifestyle change that everyone should strive for, but it is a team effort which means we all need to do our bit. Start by making some goals each month and see what is practical for you to swap to or reuse. Be proud that you're making the effort because many people aren't. Everything you can do actually does make a difference! Let that motivate your lifestyle changes!

What goals have you made this month for your sustainable future? Let me know in the comments!

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