What is Zero Waste Living?
'Zero Waste' noun: a situation in which no waste material is produced.
It can feel like information overload when it comes to an influx of eco-language: compostable, biodegradable, plant-based, flexitarian, zero-waste, and if you can't make sense of these phrases, then you're understandably less likely to be passionate about them. So, lets break down the phrase zero-waste!
When it comes to our personal lives, how can they be Zero-Waste?
The idea behind zero-waste living is a reduction of unnecessary waste, ideally both landfill and recyclable waste. Although recyclable waste is now becoming more accepted as a realistic part of a zero-waste lifestyle.
When you live a zero-waste lifestyle you are aiming to avoid anything single-use that serves no other purpose once used. For example buying single-use plastic straws, coffee cups or water bottles. When you live zero-waste, you're aiming to reduce your waste and prolong the lives of everyday items, getting as much use out of them as possible. Remember reduce, reuse, recycle? Well, zero-waste is more reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, repurpose and re-gift. The idea is, even if something is recyclable, to think 'how can this item live on as something new?' as opposed to it becoming waste after one use.
Think of each item as having a life-cycle, some items lifecycles will be longer than others, but the important thing is to keep it going for as long as possible, and ideally avoid landfill altogether!
If we were to follow zero-waste living according to the Cambridge definition, it would mean that throughout our daily lives we would produce no waste whatsoever - no plastic wrappers, no paper waste, no food waste. Now, this would be wonderful and kudos to those of you who have achieved this.
But for the average person who wants to reduce their waste, the phrase zero-waste, the pressure behind it and the idea that in order to do it properly you have to do it perfectly, is daunting. So daunting in fact that many of us will just give up before we even start!
We need progress, not perfection
If you want to try out zero-waste living but feel daunted, put off or scared of failing, the best thing to do is to just start somewhere.
Start with a simple swap, something easy and achievable - Do you buy a coffee every morning on the way to work? Get yourself a reusable cup. Do you use copious amounts of cotton pads in your beauty routine? Swap for reusable, washable ones. Constantly throwing out kitchen paper towels and sponges? Find reusable alternatives. Bring your own shopping bags, opt for loose veg, stop buying things you don't need.
Imagine the term 'snowballing' but in a positive way: You make one small, achievable swap, you feel good about it, it inspires you to make another, then another and so on. Pretty soon you'll gather a small number of zero-waste, eco-friendly habits that just become second nature. There will be some swaps that perhaps just aren't realistic for you and that's okay! But I can assure you there will be plenty that are.
We've compiled plenty more ideas for you on our blog post 'How to Start Going Zero Waste' that you can find here>>