Have you ever thought about your trash? Take a second and do it now. Think about what you throw away every day. Think about your trash both in and out of the home. Do you get a daily takeaway coffee cup? Are you constantly tossing packaging materials from online purchases? Is your pantry filled with single-use food items? Now, ask yourself, “Where does all that trash go?” Have you thought about what happens after it leaves your curbside bin? It doesn’t magically vanish after it leaves; it goes to a landfill. But, what if there was more
to the story?
Consider all of the resources that go into producing the products we buy and all of the packaging that comes with them. When we truly think about all of the stuff we interact with, it becomes clear that some of the best things we can do are buy less, buy consciously, and produce as little waste as possible.
The ultimate goal: zero waste.
What is Zero Waste ?
The goal of zero waste is to send nothing to a landfill. Reduce what we need, reuse as much as we can, send little as possible to be recycled, and compost what’s leftover. It’s not a new idea, but rather a very old one. It hearkens back to depression-era living—the epitome of frugality, a time in which nothing was wasted. Very little was thrown away because people used what they had over and over again. It stands in stark contrast to our current disposable society where perfectly good items are landfilled “just because.”
Zero waste is about redefining the system. We currently live in a linear economy where we take resources from the earth, use them for a while, and then dump them in a giant hole in the ground. The goal of zero waste is to move to a circular economy that mimics nature. Instead of discarding resources into a landfill, we create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system for reuse. The goal is to completely write trash out of existence.
“Zero waste” doesn’t really mean ZERO. Zero is a goal, but it’s not possible in our current society. We will never achieve this goal without a massive overhaul and infrastructure change, but we can work toward it through individual action, group
action, business action, and policy change.