Join the zero waste movement!
True zero waste requires a community effort, but community starts with you. Individuals that make changes to live more sustainably help evolve the culture in their community, which is an essential prerequisite for any lasting institutional reform. Read on for insight into what you can do as an individual to be part of the solution.
With how disconnected we currently are from the effects of our consumption, it's easy for things to slip under the rug. Eliminating waste starts with talking about waste. You might start by voicing your concerns about the wasteful practices of a local business, or turning the topic to planned obsolescence when a friend's cheap electronic breaks shortly after purchase. No major change can come about in society without an accompanying change in culture, so by talking about waste, you're doing your part to bring this important issue into greater view.
Reducing waste is a matter of looking for ways to avoid it in the various places it budges its way into our lives. Using tupperware at home, carrying containers or cutlery for use on the go, and bringing canvas bags to the grocery store are all relatively simple ways to get away from single-use disposable goods where they often appear. Locally-produced food items at farmer's markets also generally use less packaging than the store, and buying local comes with the added bonus of cutting down transportation emissions in addition to circulating more money in the local economy.
As important as recycling is, it's still extremely energy-intensive, and some material is inevitably lost in the process. Reuse doesn't just help cut down on recycling emissions and energy use, it also creates a unique set of productive constraints. Such constraints can inspire creativity and innovation. Reuse might look like upcycling old T-shirts into macrame plant hangers, buying from online classifieds instead of IKEA, or shopping for second-hand clothes. Additionally, a mindful reuser might try to imagine new life for their own discards before throwing them away.
Recycling is essential to the recovery of precious resources. Citizens can do their part by reading up on and abiding by the guidelines for recycling in their neighborhood. Washing recyclables prior to collection helps protect the health of the people working in pick-up and at recycling facilities, while source separation helps keep materials from being degraded. Paper that comes in contact with food scraps or oil can no longer be recycled, which demonstrates how important it is to separate different materials into their respective categories.
The benefits of composting cannot be understated. Organic matter in landfills is notorious for contributing to leachate and greenhouse gas emissions, but as compost it becomes valuable fertilizer for crops. With a steady flow of high-quality compost, farmers can reduce their reliance on ecologically-destructive synthetic fertilizers. If your neighborhood doesn't support compost pick-up, consider composting at home with a bin in your yard or a vermiculture bin in your kitchen.
Zero waste is a choice away
In fact, rather than viewing zero waste as an idealistic dream, we should remember that zero waste is the natural state of the environment, where all matter fills a niche at every point in its lifecycle. Zero waste is simply a matter of will.
To learn more about what you can do at the community level, follow the link below.