In order to achieve a zero waste lifestyle, no waste should be sent to landfills. Instead, waste should either be reused, or else recycled. A zero waste system requires economic changes with regard to the way in which we currently extract and dispose of resources.
Transitioning from the conventional framework of a linear economy into a circular economy, whereby no waste ends up in landfills, but is instead reincorporated back into the material ecosystem, is necessary in order to achieve an economic status of zero waste.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), zero waste can be defined as “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.”
On an individual level, we all have a responsibility to adopt an eco mindset and purchase zero waste products. Although a wider structure must be in place for people to live a sustainable lifestyle, without individual effort, it counts for nothing.
The environmental consequences of choosing against a zero-waste lifestyle
Oceans and landfills are overflowing as a result of toxic, (often plastic) waste. Harmful gasses such as methane are released into the atmosphere once this waste is exposed to sunlight. Other disposed items such as batteries and electronics release toxins that filter into the soil, ending up in oceans and water systems.
The extinction of marine ecosystems and marine biodiversity are two major consequences that may arise as a result of water pollution. Microplastics arise as a result of plastic pollution in oceans.
Scientists have found microplastics at every level of the ocean. The most common type of microplastic that they find is polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
How to ‘go’ zero-waste?
Waste free living helps to preserve not only the planet, but also human health and financial burden.
A zero waste lifestyle can be achieved by following some basic principles. The ‘three R’s’ (reduce, reuse, recycle), are simple yet paramount in the quest to accomplish zero waste.
Reduce your waste output by opting for biodegradable and eco friendly products (that can be reused). Travel on transport less in favour of walking or cycling.
Take old items and find new use cases for them (reusing is effective in circumstances whereby reducing isn’t possible).
Convert used items into new items, using old materials.
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