Is Zero Waste a Waste of Time? A Deeper Look into the Zero Waste Lifestyle

 Zero waste is actually a thing!

First of all, let’s talk about what zero waste means. Zero waste is one tactic of green living in which we lessen our impact on the environment by creating little to no waste.

This is accomplished through what is known as the 5 R’s of Zero Waste: refuse, reuse, recycle, reduce or rot.

In other words, refuse to use anything that would end up in a landfill somewhere like plastic bottles or anything wrapped in plastic.

Reuse anything that can be reused. Purchase products that can be used over and over, like reusable lunch containers and cloth diapers. Fix stuff that is broken, give away clothes that don’t fit, repurpose clothing for other uses.

Reduce what you use. Do you really need 100 pairs of shoes in your closet? Do you really need a different outfit for all 356 days of the year? Do you need 10 different perfumes/colognes? Do you really need all those products in your cleaning cupboard?

Place all food scraps to rot in a bin to make compost/fertilizer.

If you still have waste after refusing, reusing, and reducing, and rotting, then recycle what you have left. Make sure you have designated recycling bins for the different wastes that you will be recycling. Do not mix your actual trash with recyclables, or all those things that can be recycled will just end up in a landfill somewhere anyways.

In a nutshell, zero waste is refusing, reusing, reducing, rotting, and recycling our wastes so that we end up with very little to NO waste.

So what’s wrong with what we’re doing?

It’s all about economy. Most of us live in a linear economy, whereas the zero waste economy is a cyclical economy.

In a linear economy, we use up natural resources (ie trees, precious metals) by creating (mostly) products of convenience that end up creating toxic byproducts, pollution, and waste. We then take these products and distribute them all over the world. After we buy these products and use them up, we either burn them up in an incinerator or burying them in a landfill. …then we go out and buy another of that product and repeat this linear pattern.

This way of producing, consuming and disposing of these natural resources and products of convenience is responsible for almost half of US greenhouse gas emissions! With greenhouse gas emissions depleting the ozone layer, we are seeing climate changes like never before. These climate changes are negatively affecting not just the human race, but every species on our planet.

The consequences of this linear economy have trickled down to every facet of life on earth and have negatively impacted everything from our food and water supplies to our health.

With our worlds growing population, there is no way that we can keep up with this method of producing, consuming and disposing of wastes.

On the other hand, in zero waste communities, our aim is to use renewable resources to create products in as natural, less toxic, less waste, less polluting ways possible. Then we sell and purchase locally, which strengthens the local economy, and lessens transportation needs, which leads to less habitat loss, less pollution and less congestion. Whatever we purchase locally, we use. If we don’t use, repair and/or reuse it, we recycle it, or let it rot and use it in other ways. It’s a cycle that never ends where very little to no waste is created. It’s self-sustaining and doesn’t rob from future generations.

What are the benefits? You be the judge…

The obvious is that fewer wastes are created and little to no impact on the environment we live in.

But can you see how choosing a zero waste lifestyle is actually more economical? You end up saving money when you’re not disposing of everything used and broken and just buying new. This in turn means less non-renewable resource consumption which inevitably helps us manage our limited resources. And of course, you end up saving money when you’re not buying all these prepackaged, plastic wrapped, just-for-convenience, non-green products.

Aside from all the economic benefits, not surprisingly, the health benefits are out of this world! Less harmful byproducts of landfill incinerators putting chemicals and who knows what into the air, healthier food consumption due to utilizing zero waste techniques, and healthier use of cleaning and beauty products.

The interesting thing is, more and more manufacturers, businesses and communities are adapting zero waste policies. This means we should also start seeing a broader spectrum of healthier green products and zero waste products to choose from.

Last but not least, in my opinion, one of the greatest benefits of going zero waste is being able to help your friends, family, and community.

Practical Tips for Creating a Zero Waste Home

~Buy your produce from a local farmers market

~Mend clothing

~Give away unneeded clothing to those in need

~Donate unnecessary household items to local charities, salvation army, or goodwill store

~Utilize recycling bins

~Make a compost pile or bin in your backyard

~Grow a vegetable garden

~Use cloth grocery bags rather than plastic bags

~Bottle your own water in a stainless steel cup

~Use cloth hand towels rather then paper towels

~Choose glass or stainless steel reusable containers over plastic reusable containers

~Recycle old clothing by making them into blankets/quilts

~Ask yourself, do you really need to buy it? Or can you rent it?

~Use plastic wrap and tin foil alternatives

~Buy from the bulk section of your local grocery store when possible

~Do the majority, if not all, of your cooking from scratch. It’s healthier for you and there is less packaging.

~Make your own napkins

~Make your own beauty supplies

~Eat your leftovers, or use leftovers as a base for another meal

~Use simpler cleaning supplies that have been around for centuries and actually work (ie. vinegar, baking soda)

~Use cloth handerkerchiefs instead of kleenex tissues

~Shop for zero waste products

As you can see, Zero Waste is NOT a waste of time!

Hope this article has helped you! If you enjoyed this, feel free to share!! 🙂

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  • Helen

    Thanks for a great article, I haven’t heard of the 5 R’s before and it really makes sense. I’m going to take your suggestions on board to try and reduce our weekly waste.

    • Blakey

      Wonderful to hear! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, and best of wishes on making green choices! If you need any help or have any questions, or suggestions, you can comment here or email me…

  • Ahmad Ballard

    Hello Blake, great article on zero waste. I had a lot of clothes that I have given away that I don’t need anyone. I eat all of my leftovers instead of getting rid of them. I like to use old grocery bags instead of regular trash bags. I have cut down on purchasing sneakers as well. I have my own recycle bins, and recycle all useless plastic. I just need to start cooking more from scratch, and purchasing produce of farmer’s markets.

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