“Zero waste” is a buzz-phrase I’ve seen bandied about quite a lot here and there recently, not least within the blogosphere. Particularly within the vegan and minimalism circles, #zerowaste seems to be taking off and I’m all for it. For those of us wanting to lead a life less hampered by material possessions, creating less waste is a natural step to take. On a more pessimistic note, human overconsumption is killing the planet; we throw far too much away and are straying ever-further from sustainable, environmentally friendly lifestyles, and something needs to be done before it gets even more out of hand.
On a grander scale, the zero waste approach is informing the way governments and companies invest, and the way businesses create and innovate, moving towards more sustainable sources and means of production. There’s certainly a market for ethical, eco-friendly wares, whether it be clothing, cosmetics or food. Change is happening, and it’s definitely a positive thing to see bloggers and social media influencers getting on board and sharing useful tips and tricks on how the rest of us can get involved.
In the last few months, I’ve become increasingly mindful of the amount of waste I produce. Although I recycle wherever possible, there always seems to be some sort of material that can’t be, and is destined for an eternal life in the landfill. From the sheer volume of plastic packaging I get through, to the disposable food containers and coffee cups, and unsustainable household items I use daily, I have started to identify ways I can lead a more eco-friendly life, and be a more conscious consumer. However, the more I’ve started to consider myself in relation to the zero waste lifestyle, the more I’ve wondered if it’s quite suited to how I lead my life.
As a blogger, I get through a lot of beauty and skincare products, many of which are packaged unsustainably. I love buying new makeup, and usually end up with far more than I need or use, and am certainly not what you would call a minimalist. While I am turning increasingly to natural beauty brands whose packaging is recyclable, I am still creating a lot of extra waste at the end of the day. I wonder – is this high level of consumerism compatible with the zero waste lifestyle? And if it isn’t, would I prepared to give it up?
When it comes to the food that I buy, a lot of it is processed, non-organic, and wrapped up in plastic. I don’t currently have the money to shop for essentials at places (like Wholefoods and other health stores) where you can take your own packaging to buy products such as rice and pasta in bulk; even if I did, these places are not local to me and I’m not sure I have the time and energy to put into making trips further afield for food items that I normally order online to avoid going to the shops entirely. Doesn’t this attitude rule me out of the zero waste life altogether?
Much like my stance on being vegan, I believe that whatever contribution to producing less waste you can personally make at this time is worthwhile. For me, this means not using any plastic bags for groceries, staying on top of recycling (note: the zero waste approach is less about recycling and more about simply reusing and creating as little waste as possible), buying from more eco-friendly brands, shopping for fruit and vegetables locally and eliminating disposable coffee cups from my life, among other things. I can’t claim that I’ll be going plastic-free or composting my food waste overnight (although these are both long-term goals), but I still want to try and make an impact where I can.
Want to find out more about the zero waste life? Here are some resources to check out:
| Soph’s Choices – vegan lifestyle blog with a strong focus on sustainable living
| Sustainably Vegan – YouTube channel covering #zerowaste living
| Kristen Leo – YouTuber passionate about thrifting and ethical lifestyle
| One Green Planet – site featuring dozens of articles on eco-friendly living