Welcome to Zo Zero’s first blog post!
Zo Zero, #zeroplastic and #zerowaste. The term zero, discouraging and intimidating. Zero waste bloggers that are able to fit their trash in a small mason jar. Even more daunting.
But let’s take a step back to figure out what zero waste actually means.
Bea Johnson is a zero waste blogger and author of ‘A Zero Waste Home’ who played an important role in kick starting the zero waste movement. Her secret to a zero waste lifestyle is based on 5 R’s that can be used as a guideline for anyone looking to reduce their waste. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that sequence). Following these 5 R’s makes zero waste look pretty easy!
Refuse the things you do not need. Say no to single use cups, plastic forks and straws if you can swap them for reusables. Unsubscribe to junk mail you do not wish to receive. Do not accept the freebie pens they give away at meetings, conferences and events. Bring your own toiletries instead of using the hotel’s complementary single use shampoo and soap bottles. Take a minute to think about whether you really need all of those things or whether they will end up in the garbage bin. Saying no allows you to stand up to these unsustainable practices.
Reduce the things you do not need. Declutter your home and donate to a thrift store. Stuff collecting dust in your home may come in handy to someone else. Be a conscious consumer and buy only what you need or genuinely brings you joy. Think about the true cost. Forget about fast fashion that often ends up in the back of your closet and consider investing in good quality clothes that last longer. This leaves you with more time, space and energy to spend on what really matters to you. Less is more.
Reuse where possible. We live in a consumer society where disposables have become a normal part of daily life. It is all about efficiency and convenience but in the meantime our landfills are overflowing with single use products and our oceans are filling up with plastic. It is time to swap your disposables for reusables. It really could not be easier. Bring your own shopping and produce bags to the (super)market. Consider a reusable coffee cup for your daily coffee fix. Use refillable water bottles. Think about wax wraps as a replacement for cling wrap or tin foil. Consider vintage second hand. These simple zero waste swaps will reduce a tremendous amount of (plastic) waste and may turn out to be favourable for your wallet as well.
Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse. Consider recycling as your last resort and always try to avoid plastic. When plastic is recycled it is actually downcycled, which means the quality will be reduced and the plastic will eventually end up on a landfill or in the ocean. Glass, metal and cardboard are better options. Make sure you look into your local recycling policies as they can differ per region.
Compost the rest. Some municipalities collect organic waste like food and other biodegradable items. If not, you can consider setting up your own compost system. There are some great voluntary neighbourhood initiatives but you can DIY at home. Organic waste actually has a lot of nutritional value, which is why composting is a great way to transform organic waste into soil conditioner. It reduces landfill waste and is good for the environment.
So let us embrace the term zero and use it as a source of inspiration to do the best we can to reduce our waste and take better care of our planet. We do not have to strive for perfection or live a radical minimalist lifestyle. Some parts of the world are better equipped for a zero waste lifestyle than others, with plenty of bulk stores or composting facilities in the vicinity. So stop comparing, forget about the mason jar and focus on what you can do! Every little bit counts.