These days, the term zero waste has become a thriving buzz term. It’s as prolific as the term ‘size zero’ was in the 90s, and for most of us, it’s just as unobtainable. Unlike size zero waists, it would be ideal for zero waste to happen. After all, the movement’s fundamental goal – to stop rubbish going into landfills, incinerators and/or the ocean – is a brilliant one. However, it can put you off when you still have to throw a lot away, or still find yourself in that endless queue for the tip.
I think it is important to take the phrase zero waste and its connotations with a pinch of salt, and give yourself a pat on the back for every small sustainable step you make. Just waste less, focus on the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and if it goes wrong, don’t worry about it – tomorrow is a new day.
There are often many obstacles in the way for all of us. Some of us struggling with money, others restrained by time, but something is better than nothing. For instance, would you set aside your jam jars and go to a refilling store once a month? Or could you buy something reusable once a month? Reusable items span from shopping bags to cloth napkins to menstrual cups and safety razors.
It is important to note that Zero Waste is still a very good, searchable phrase on search engines like Ecosia or Google. It is a good way to find tips, ideas and hacks to help your sustainability efforts. It is also undeniably used by lots of excellent green companies such as zero waste shops or organisations like zero waste life.
For instance, there are some great Instagram accounts that produce lots of helpful, easy-to-read tips as shown below.
Alternatively, if the thought of zero waste makes you shudder, try following Sustainable(ish). Led by Jen Gale, she describes sustainable(ish) as “doing what you can, one baby step at a time. No preaching, no judgement, no expectations of ‘eco-perfection'”. She offers resources, books, services as well as a newsletter to promote suggestions that (as she says quite hilariously) make a difference without living “off grid in a yurt and learn to knit our own yoghurt”. Thus she provides us with ideas that we all can maintain.
When it comes to reducing waste, there are so many things you can choose from and so many ways to find information. Aiming for zero waste is a great philosophy to keep but perhaps – when it comes to every day terminology – taking sustainable steps is a more realistic attitude to have.
The important thing is not to overwhelm yourself. Keep things bite-sized and know that any effort you make is a contribution to an important cause.
By Vicky Koch
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