Zero waste lifestyle might sound as a hippie-like lifestyle. But the growing number of following shows that it has potential. It could also be one of the solution to plastic waste in the world. The idea is to eliminate plastic before it even created. Known more as precycling.
History of Zero Waste Lifestyle
Tracing the history of zero waste lifestyle is kind of hard. But Kathryn Kellogg, the brain behind Going Zero Waste and some others said that Bea Johnson as the pioneer of the lifestyle.
Johnson is a Frenchwoman who lives in California. She, with her husband and two children has been living waste-free since 2008. She also published a book in 2013 regarding the subject.
During that time, zero waste was only a term used by government and companies to differentiate themselves from other in term of waste organization and environmentally friendly. Not a common lifestyle.
US government under President George H.W. Bush passed the Pollution Prevention Act which angled to prevent or reduce pollution whenever possible and in turn spend less on controlling pollution. Bush was famous with his take, “it you don’t create pollution and waste, you don’t have to clean it up.”
Americans generates 20 kg of trash every day on average. That being said, it means every person produces more than 725. 8 kg waste a year.
This lifestyle is similar to trash-free goals that many major cities in US aim to be. It may also one of most effective solution for plastic waste problem nowadays. In 2001, Oakland, California established a zero-waste goal with then passed in March 7, 2006. San Francisco joined not long after. With the goal plans to be adopted by 2020.
In Text of Oakland, CA, Zero Waste Resolution stated that in 2001, the California Integrated Waste Management Boards set a goal of Zero waste in its strategic plan for the state; and cities, councils, counties, and states worldwide have adapted a goal of achieving zero waste, including the counties of San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Del Norte in California; the cities of Palo Alto, and Berkeley in California, Seattle in Washington, Toronto in Canada, and Canberra in Australia; and the states of New South Wales in Australia; and 45% of New Zealand’s local government councils.
Hierarchy of Waste Reduction
Zero waste designs to send zero discards to the landfill or high-temperature destruction. Instead, products are made and consume according to the principle of highest and best use and the waste reduction hierarchy. The hierarchy is:
- Prevent waste
- Reduce and reuse first
- Recycle and compost
The new hierarchy may does not sound familiar as the “Three R’s” of waste management. The Three R’s is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The waste hierarchy above is a more developed version of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.
“Prevent waste” is the output of “Reduce” breakdown. It is put as the first step. As in zero waste lifestyle, you eliminate the waste from the very beginning. Which is the most favored move to do in waste management.
These two hierarchy is the order of priority of action taken to reduce the amount of waste, and to improve overall waste management processes and programs.
Zero Waste Shops
Zero waste lifestyle has been gaining followers in recent years. Especially in Europe. It aims to obliterate the number waste produce. They do it by refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot. In recent years, more and more zero waste stores have been popping in Europe. Such as in Berlin, Vienna, Berlin and Barcelona.
Take Original Unverpackt, a zero-waste shop at Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg. The store full of gravity bins, fusti and bulk containers of products to choose from such as grains, nuts, legumes and oil.
There is also a shop name Lunzers in Vienna. What’s unique about this shop is you are not going to feel confused with many options of one kind of item. There’s only one or two alternatives, selected by a member of a righteous cognoscenti.
The focus of these shops is not only being a zero-waste one stop shopping by selling food and household supplies in bulk, but also support other sustainability cause. For example, carbon emission. A shop named Effecorta in Capannori, Italia sells local products. 80% of what they sell come from places in 70km radius of Capannori municipality. Many of them are organic too. The aim is to sell local products up to 95%.
Other cause they support is to reduce food waste. As they sell product in bulk, it allows every costumer to buy only what they need or want and in the amount they need. If you only like certain grains and dried fruit in your breakfast, you don’t have to compromise in the same way as buying a premix from ordinary shop. They treat the customers to shopping experience in a curated space in a fun way.
In USA you could also find this kind of shops. Such as Package Free in Brooklyn, the Fillery, which also in Brooklyn and By the Pound in Ann Arbor, Michigan. All you have to remember is to bring food containers when you shop. But if you forget, you could buy one in the store.
The point of these shops and the lifestyle are not just reducing packaging waste. But maximize the elimination of packaging be it paper or plastic and be more eco-friendly. The products are all eco-friendly. Bamboo toothbrush, bamboo cup, organic cleaner, and toilet paper made of bamboo is to name a few.
Not only small, indie shops that support the lifestyle. Swedish furniture company, Ikea, plans to approach zero waste by 2020. Nestle announced that all 23 of its US factories made it to zero waste in 2015.
This changes according to Johnson, is made because customers demand it. “The most important thing is to understand the power of buying. Every time you buy, that’s a vote. You have the power to support a practice that is either sustainable or not.”
Zero Waste Blogs
If you are intrigued to try but have no zero-waste shops in your neighborhood, you could visit zero waste blogs. These blogs run by the leaders of the lifestyle such as Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers and founder of Package Free, Celia Ristow of Litterless and Founder of Zero Waste Chicago, Ariana Schwards of Paris To Go, Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste and of course Beau Johnson of Zero Waste Home
These blogs, just to name a few is your baby steps to zero waste lifestyle. The blogs are full with tips of DIY, food recipes, cleaning, toiletries, beauty and fashion. Even travel. They talk the talk and walk the walk. Sharing their own experiences of living zero waste and how the answer the challenges. Rest assured that you get the best advice from the best in this from them.
The existence of these shops and blogs are major help for people to make a sustainable choice. If you up for the challenge, Singer has proven herself that in over four years the rubbish she has produce could fit in a half liter mason jar. That is mind blowing especially in nowadays it hardly possible for common people to not create more than one rubbishes a day. Let along to fit it in a small jar.
To live zero waste is possible. As long as the resource of products are accessible. Similar to what Silverstein said, “what I’ve found is that people are perfectly willing to make that sustainable choice when it’s easy and accessible to them. Having the knowledge of the lifestyle and to make a better choice and DIY without creating waste would be a great help too