Living a zero waste lifestyle has become the next trendy thing. But is it achievable? Will you truly be able to live a wasteless lifestyle? I’m here to steal your thunder if you truly believe that you will be able to continue living as a member of society and survive without producing any form of waste.
The beginning of Zero Waste
The idea of zero waste began through the formation of the Zero Waste International Alliance in 2002. Richard Anthony was the man who was inspired to stimulate closed loop practices after he saw an unsettling amount of documents focused on incineration, rather than reuse and recycling.
Richard brought together a team of experts and they determined the goal of the Zero Waste International Alliance. To promote manufacturers and communities to divert waste from landfills and incinerators.
The peer-reviewed definition of Zero Waste:
“Zero Waste: 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.”
Since the original definition was decided in 2004 it has evolved. This definition is the youngest and most recent, it was defined on December 20, 2018.
Let’s unpack the meaning of zero waste
This definition focuses on the manufacturing processes, our consumption habits and the overall lifecycle of materials. Removing toxic build-up through landfills or burning waste. The zero waste definition promotes soil regeneration and a closed-loop lifecycle of all products.
Yes, there is a portion of zero waste that is in the consumers hands: reducing consumption and properly disposing of items through recycling or compost. But this is also a broad spectrum definition that starts from the very beginning of the supply chain.
Here’s another perspective of zero waste
In 2008, Bea Johnson, the founder of Zero Waste Home began her waste-free lifestyle. She shares tips on how her family has reduced their waste output to no more than a small jar each year. This has been achieved through thoughtful consumption and in part, due to the access of bulk options in her region.
I believe Bea spurred the idea of zero waste living onto consumers. And in no way is it a bad thing. We need to be conscious consumers. We need to know how to properly recycle. And we need to know that living a completely zero waste lifestyle is idyllic, but very unrealistic. Even Bea Johnson creates waste.
Let’s change that
Immy, from Sustainably Vegan on Youtube has created the Low Impact Movement. The idea of the Low Impact Movement reduces the pressure of being unable to achieve a zero waste lifestyle. It focuses on the positives of living in a more conscious and sustainable manner and removes the feeling of guilt which is commonly felt through the zero waste movement.
It is more aptly suited for consumers. Though, low impact doesn’t capture attention quite as well as zero waste.
If you’ve felt guilty about being unable to achieve the perfect zero waste lifestyle, don’t. Zero waste was not a term that began at the consumer level. It begins with the manufacturing process. Instead opt to live a low impact lifestyle, like Immy.
Here’s a few suggestions on how you can live a low impact lifestyle
Through becoming a conscious consumer, you try to understand every single purchase. You look for companies that are supporting your values from the very beginning. Your money is the ticket to cast a vote for the future you want.
Improvements in Economy
Choosing to buy local and stimulate your immediate community or opt to Buy Nothing and promote a gift economy. There’s so many ways that we can support the closed loop lifecycle of products.
Familiarize yourself with Third Party Certifications
Closed loop certifications like Cradle To Cradle ensure that a company is putting its money where its mouth is. These impartial certifications show that the manufacturer stands by these values.
Evaluate Your Lifestyle
Where does your lifestyle produce the most waste? Is it single-use coffee cups? Is it chocolate bar wrappers? Is it unused makeup products? Conduct a waste audit and see how you can reduce consumption or cut out garbage in those areas.
What are your thoughts on the zero waste lifestyle?