Zero waste living. The term gets coined more and more these days. But what does it actually represent? Well, there is a short and a long answer to this question.
Simply spoken, a zero waste lifestyle literally means a lifestyle without waste. It represents a philosophy or even a movement in which people advocate for the reusability and full recyclability of all products that we buy. It involves thinking in cycles rather than single use.
In the popular sense of the word however, people tend to throw liberally this term around. Even most of the popular zero waste blogs and websites seem to include the term zero waste quite freely. Products made out of plastic that replace single use items, for example. Sure, it’s better to buy a reusable item, but in the end it still produces plastic waste when discarded. Technically, this certainly isn’t zero waste.
We’d advise to be cautious when reading the terms zero waste (lifestyle) these days, as more often than not, the products are not waste free.
It is understandable. Living fully zero waste in the modern western society is next to impossible. Nevertheless, each small step towards a more zero waste society is certainly a step in the right direction, how small this step may be.
The use of aluminum in supposedly zero waste products perfectly exemplifies the difficulties in determining what a true zero waste product is. Aluminum is fully recyclable, and most aluminum used these days contains over 50% recycled material. But if we take a look at the production of aluminum, it shows to be quite a harmful and dangerous process. The worst part is; only part of all aluminum is recycled. Too large of a part still ends up in landfills. The website Recyclenation gives a great short overview of this issue here.
Our journey towards zero waste living has only just begun
We are relatively new to the whole zero waste movement ourselves, and have already experienced some of the difficulties it brings along. Zero waste living is not something that happens overnight. It really requires a change in lifestyle, but a rewarding one at that.
We have recently made the step to zero waste grocery shopping. Well, it is easier said than done. Besides not being able to buy any of the junk stuff (which is not that bad to be honest) we are also struggling to find unpackaged vegetables. Part of the reason is probably that we live in a camper van and are traveling constantly. But considering what we’ve seen so far, most vegetables in every store are packaged in plastic anyways.
A true zero waste lifestyle is possible, but one does have to step away from modern society to succeed. We currently look at zero waste as a long journey, which we have to embark upon not alone but together. True zero waste living requires a mind-shift in our society as a whole. But to reach that point we as individuals have to start making a change and work up the chain step by step.
Will you join us and many others on this journey? Together we can make a change.