What does it mean to be zero waste?

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Zero-waste is a mindset alteration!

The EPA describes zero-waste as being “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

The concept of the zero-waste-movement is a goal which is both ethical and economical. The aim is to help to direct people to alter their current lifestyle and to begin living more sustainably.

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation stated “a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system.”

Moving towards a global, circular economic approach therefore goes hand in hand with the zero-waste movement and ethos. Creating a system whereby all materials and resources can be reused and returned back into a sustainable cycle is paramount for environmental preservation.

Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle also helps to reduce the volume of waste materials, helping to conserve and recover resources that the earth produces. Most buried/burned/consumed materials release toxic output into the environment, impacting various safety measures such as water-hygeine, air-quality, health and land-fertitlity.

Zero waste is a way of life which not only makes your own life more fulfilling, but also benefits every aspect of the world at the same time!

How can we live a Zero Waste lifestyle?

The main way to transition your lifestyle into a zero waste lifestyle is by applying the 5 R concept to everything that you do.

We shall briefly go into how this concept works, but if you’re interested in extensive reading, take a look at our blog post addressesing The 5 R’s Of Zero-Waste.

The 5 R’s is a framework that people can utilise in order to help reduce waste that arises from their lifestyle. The aim is to achieve a net zero output.

The 5 R’s are:

  • Refuse: Which is exactly what it says on the tin, say no to the products you don’t even need to begin with.
  • Reduce: The items which you have which don’t get used on a daily basis can be given to charity & help you focus on the products in your life which really matter.
  • Reuse: Make sure to only buy products that can be reused again & again & again. I think you get the point.
  • Recycle: This should be a concept which is not new to you. Apply the Refuse & Reduce concepts you should recycle anything else after this point.
  • Rot: This is where any biodegradable materials should be given back to the earth to rot & decompose.

What are the benefits of Zero Waste?

The key benefit of zero-waste is waste management, which benefits the environment, communities, and supports a strong circular economy.

Environmental Benefits

  • Reduces climate impact

As indicated by the EPA “42% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods we use.”

Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle could significantly reduce figures such as these.

  • Helps to conserve energy and resources

The extraction of raw material consumes a huge amount of energy and results in high levels of pollution.

A zero waste lifestyle helps to conserve resources and reduce the impact of the sourcing, manufacturing, and transporting goods.

Economical Benefits

  • Jobs are created via a circular economy

Establishing a circular economy helps to create new jobs with a focus on sustainability.

Reusing and reducing materials will also help to create new service demands in order to cater for new economic opportunities.

Community benefits:

  1. Builds community spirit

Introducing new jobs and roles will have a knock-on effect on communities and business culture in the locality. Improved food distribution to poorer communities and more sustainaible living practices will also boost community morale.

Composting, tool and skill sharing are other potential examples of community benefits.

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