The Zero Waste Movement: A New Sustainability
Anyone looking into ways to live more sustainably has probably come across the concept of zero waste. The zero waste movement is growing all over the world. It plays a vital part in protecting the resources of our planet. But what is zero waste and how can you adopt this lifestyle for yourself?
Why we need to reduce our waste
The zero waste movement has come about as a result of the growing recognition that we need to take action against the amount of waste we produce. According to Greenpeace, here in Australia the average person produces a shocking 1.5 tonnes of waste each year. This includes food waste – it is estimated that edible food worth $8 billion is thrown away annually in Australia.
Plastic is a particular culprit as it cannot be recycled and it takes hundreds of years to decompose in landfills, where it releases toxic chemicals into the earth. A large percentage of our waste is made up of plastic items, particularly packaging, such as bottles and food wrappers, as well as plastic shopping bags.
Other non-recyclable materials such as clothes made of synthetic fabrics are also contributing heavily to the unacceptable levels of waste we’re producing as a nation every single year.
Why recycling isn’t working
While many of us are fairly conscientious about recycling, only 30 percent of recyclable items currently end up being recycled. This simply isn’t enough for recycling to be called a sustainable living option. That is why there has been a shift in focus amongst environmental activists towards zero waste – we have to reduce the amount of waste that is actually produced. Living zero waste is about making a real effort to cut down on the amount of things we’re throwing away.
How to shop zero waste
The high level of concern about this issue has led to the concept of zero waste stores. There are currently only a handful of zero waste stores in the world, but their numbers are growing as more people are becoming concerned about environmental issues and want to live more sustainably as a result.
Zero waste stores, such as Wasteless Pantry in Mundaring, offer a new concept in grocery shopping. Their food products come from local, sustainable sources and their cleaning products are all eco-friendly. However, the main difference between a zero waste store and a regular grocery store is that they allow you to take your own containers or purchase long lasting recyclable containers to hold the products you purchase. Basically, there’s no need for plastic wrappers. You are also able to choose the amounts of each product you purchase, so you only have to buy the appropriate amount and nothing gets wasted. This is also extremely helpful when it comes to managing portion sizes, especially if you have children!
Helping your own zero waste effort
It’s much easier to achieve a zero waste lifestyle if you’re prepared to invest the extra time it takes to produce more of your own food. Baking your own bread, cultivating your own yoghurt and creating delicious homemade sauces is the ideal way to negate the need for packaging and make sure you only have what you need, so nothing is thrown away. Many cleaning products can also be made at home – they’re cheaper and at least as effective as store-bought chemicals, while also being much healthier for our families and the environment we live in.
Consumer culture is responsible for so much of the waste we produce. We live in an instant gratification society where we expect to be able to get the things we want whenever we want them. However, we need to move away from this “zero wait” mentality to one of zero waste. Adopting a more sustainable way of living will help to protect our planet’s resources for future generations. Hopefully, in their lifetimes if not in ours, the whole world can be producing close to zero waste.