How much waste do you and your family usually throw away every day? What if we make it in a month? And how much if we make it in a year? Can you imagine where will all those waste go eventually?
Nowadays we are dealing with enormous amount of waste produced by the whole world. The dangerous and toxic part of this is that some of the waste produced are naturally not degradable and will stay on earth for hundreds of years.
The Waste Problem
According to World Economic Forum, the worldwide average amount of waste recorded as municipal solid waste is 1.2 kilograms per capita per day. That means every person in this world in average produces 1.2 kg of waste in a day.
Developed countries are the top producer of waste since the consumption level of those countries are higher. While developing nations produce a slightly lower amount of waste per capita since their consumption level are also lower.
However, this world keeps growing and more people are born each day. It is predicted that in 2025, the annual worldwide urban waste is tripled. This will happen because in 2025 there will be around 1.4 billion more people living in this world.
Just imagine how much waste will be thrown at that time. So how do we cope with that? The best thing to do is preparing ourselves to limit the amount of waste produced. We can try to reduce the production of waste in our daily lives until near zero with the zero waste lifestyle.
Zero Waste Philosophy
The Philosophy of Zero Waste is the redesigning of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. So almost nothing is thrown away to the landfill. It means that this method emphasizes in waste prevention, or things are handled in such way that it will not be considered as a waste.
This lifestyle is a global lifestyle with the support of Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), the definition of zero waste they adopted is:
“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.”
“Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.”
“Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health”
The Zero Waste philosophy actually can be applied to business, communities, industries, and even homes. There are many benefits of being zero waste, whether it is from the production side or the consumption side.
In production scale, applying the Zero Waste philosophy will save more money. By reducing the amount of potential waste in the product, it means that the product is made more efficiently. Waste is a sign of inefficiency and reducing the potential waste means less cost in production.
Applying the Zero Waste strategy will also improve the material flows. The use of new raw materials would be reduced to as few as the amount of waste materials sent to the landfill. Any material waste would either return as reusable or recycled materials, and again will save a lot of money.
While in the individual or family daily life scale, the Zero Waste strategy would likely bring much more benefits. In addition to saving consumption money, you can get the health benefit, even improvement in your life quality.
How To Change To Zero Waste?
Many people think that changing their lifestyle to zero waste is a lot of effort and has to be done all in one time. It’s actually not like that, changing to Zero can be done step by step until you are ready to be one of the most efficient human in the world.
Bea Johnson is one of the most famous Zero Waste bloggers. In her blog she shared many clues about living with Zero Waste strategy.
According to Bea, actually there are five rules to apply here: Refuse what you don’t need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse things by using reusables, Recycle the things that you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse, and Rot the rest to make compost.
Refuse means that don’t take what you don’t need and bravely refuse things that are given to you without your intention. In example is junk mail, it is kind of a waste of resources since it will eventually just go straight into your trash bin.
Another example is those freebies you can get from conferences, parties, or meetings. Every time you take one, you create a demand to take more and more. Ask yourself, what will you do with another free pen?
Reduce means get what you need, efficiently. You can do this step by first learning to clean up your house and choose unused stuffs you find.
You can donate those things for people who need it or you can sell it in your own garage sale. This will lighten your load and bring happiness to other people who are more likely to give those things more use.
3. Reuse (And Repair)
Reuse and also Repair, is another step to Zero Waste living. The first thing is swap the disposable for reusable items, like tissues for handkerchiefs and cloth napkins, plastic bags for shopping totes, etc.
If you have changed your disposables for reusable items, then you can repair those things when they get broken. In example when your shopping tote is ripped, you can just sew it to give it back its full function.
Recycling is your last resort, choose wisely what you are going to buy and think about the former three steps first. Choose materials other than plastics if you cannot recycle it yourself because plastic often ends up in the landfill (or ocean).
Rot things and make them compost. Find a compost system that works for your home and learn what it will digest. This way, you will make use of what’s grown from earth and give it back to earth.
Those are the steps to guide you to Zero Waste living. For your information, if you want to do this you should remember that you are not alone. There are many sites in the internet that will provide you the information about the guides, supports, even nearest communities.