Take a quick look at the bin in the corner of your room. What’s in it? Mostly plastic, probably – packaging from everything you’ve bought over the last week, from wrapped up vegetables to cosmetic products and soap. Imagine how much you’ve thrown away over the last month, and the last year. Now, imagine you could fit all of that into one small jar. That’s zero waste.
Zero waste is the idea that you create literally no rubbish.
From home-made soap, lip balm, makeup and washing up liquid, to composting all of your vegetable waste and buying your food without packing. Going zero waste means aiming to send absolutely nothing to landfill, and it’s all about making an impact on our environment. It seems impossible in today’s society – everything we buy is packaged in one way or another – but there are people successfully living like this, and the movement has slowly started to gain attention thanks to the social media influencers pioneering it.
The average person in England creates nearly 500kg of household waste every year. Landfills are one of the biggest environmental problems that we, as human beings, create. And not only are they an environmental disaster, they are costing us a lot of money.
Why go zero waste?
Well, aside from the obvious environmental benefits – you don’t need to look too hard at the world to see that we need to start making a few changes – you’ll learn how to use everything you buy, meaning there won’t be any wasted food getting thrown out at the end of the month making you feel guilty. Plus, it can actually be cheaper to make your own products like soap and washing up liquid.
As an added bonus, ditching the packaged goods often means you’ll end up shopping at a lot of smaller, local stores, so you can sleep easy knowing you’ve helped out your local businesses.
How difficult is it to go zero waste?
Okay, the idea seems pretty good, right? You’ll be helping to save the environment, doing your part for future generations, and probably even saving money. Nothing is ever that easy though, unfortunately. So, is it actually possible?
If you’re lucky enough to live in a big, forward-thinking city such as Chicago, it’s actually super easy. You can find composting services to pick up your food waste, find plenty of second-hand stores to buy from and donate to, and there are plenty of farmers’ markets and grocery stores designed to make zero-waste living a lot easier.
It Can Take a Little Bit of Time
Unfortunately, if you don’t happen to live in one of the cities pioneering zero-waste living, it can be a little bit more difficult. That doesn’t mean impossible! But it does mean giving up a few of your weekends to make your way to farmers’ markets, which are often every second weekend – so includes stocking up on two weeks’ worth of food. It might be a little bit more difficult to get package-free foods from your average grocery store, but your local or ethnic stores are often good places to check out.
If you can stick it out and get into a good rhythm, it’s easy to get used to, however. Get the hang of which stores to go to and find your favourite way of making make-up or soap (this might take a little experimentation!), and you’ll never look back.
And Remember, Every Little Helps
You don’t have to be the strictest person in the book. Even if you just cut down your trash from two bags a week to one, or swap bagged vegetables for individual ones, you’re making a difference. It can be difficult to go completely zero-waste, but cutting down your trash even a little bit is still worth the effort.