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The Zero Waste Household

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Household

What does zero waste really mean?

Today, we hear more and more about the problems caused by plastic waste. The unmanageable amount of rubbish that humankind produces every day has become an important topic in the press and on social media platforms. Obviously, we need to do something, but is there a solution to these problems that we can do on a day-to-day basis?

Zero waste is an approach that seeks to find efficient solutions in waste management. This is based on the fact that the products are made to last and they have value, i.e. they are reusable. In other words, the goal of the zero waste movement is to use everything over and over again instead of producing waste, as opposed to the single-use approach.

Everybody is aware of the garbage islands floating in the oceans, sea animals and birds entangled in plastic waste, beaches covered with plastic cups, bags and straws. Globally, every year approximately 8 million tons of waste lands in the oceans, severely damaging the ecosystem.

But what can we consumers do against this depressing situation? Is there room for individual action, and if so, to what extent? While many think that change can only be done at a systemic level, we often see conscious consumers who have switched to the zero waste lifestyle and their annual waste production can fit into a mason jar. But not only consumers switch to this lifestyle, we see more and more service providers and suppliers offering sustainable, plastic free products such as glass bottles, containers, bamboo toothbrushes, biodegradable dental floss, reusable diapers and menstruation pads. 

Achieving waste-free is not an easy thing to do, and it´s not worth to make radical changes right away, and don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself immediately. Plan carefully, and move step by step. Otherwise very soon you will feel disappointed and discouraged. 

Once you start consciously looking for sustainable solutions you soon realize how much waste actually we generate day-by-day. The lightbulb went off for me personally when in 2017 I traveled from Switzerland, the country of perfect cleanliness and waste management systems to South-America. I have never seen so much plastic packaging before in my life. Once I went to a book store and every single book was wrapped in plastic. It was crazy. 

Soon I realized that just because in Western-Europe we have perfectly working recycling system, it´s not solving the plastic problem, it´s just covering it. This realization led me to buy a large piece of linen in the nearest fabric store and take it to the seamstress, who sewed me 15 small bags out of it, which I took with me everywhere from there, thus avoiding the use of single-use plastic bags.

In a world grappling with the overwhelming challenges of plastic waste, the zero waste movement offers a practical solution. By embracing reusable products and mindful consumption, individuals can play an active role in combating the damage caused by single-use items. It’s a journey that starts with small steps and gradually transforms our daily habits, ultimately paving the way towards a cleaner and more sustainable future.

Written by Sue

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