“Zero waste” is one of the most popular buzzwords currently circling the sustainability community. Everyone is selling zero waste products, and promoting their use. There are a number of people on social media with growing audiences of people following them in their “zero waste journey.” These eco-conscious folks have cut down on their waste so significantly that all the waste they generate can fit into a single mason jar. For the most die-hard zero wasters, they claim to create less waste in a year than most people create in a single day. Everyone is selling zero waste products, and promoting their use in a wide variety of ways.
While these examples are inspiring stories of what life can look like free from the single use plastics and packaging that encase most of what we consume, zero waste lifestyles can be incredibly difficult for most people to attain. The term “zero waste” can be applied to a number of different lifestyles, all with the goal of reducing their impact on the planet.
What is zero waste?
The basic tenant of the zero waste movement is attempting to minimize or eliminate the amount of waste that cannot be recycled, reused, or composted that people create. This involves buying food from farmers markets to avoid plastic packaging, shopping from sustainable stores, and buying products that can be recycled at the end of their lifecycle. Our planet is facing a growing waste problem, and many of the products that we use and consume are designed for convenience and affordability with little or no concern given for the environmental impact that they may have.
How does zero waste work?
Many zero waste products utilize alternative materials that can be better recycled than traditional single use products. These can include bamboo, recycled paper and cardboard, or utilize reusable packaging to prevent waste. Zero waste also involves buying higher quality products that will last for years instead of buying cheap, disposable products that will end up in the garbage after only a few uses.
It also involves being proactive to recycle everything in the correct way and taking advantage of tools like composting and selling or giving away clothing and household items so that they can be reused. A great deal of waste that ends up in landfills could have either been recycled or donated, however people throw it away because they either don’t want to deal with it or don’t know the proper way to dispose of it.
How can people get started with zero waste?
For many people, zero waste seems like an unattainable goal. In order to prevent as much waste as possible, it often means avoiding the convenient options for shopping like regular grocery stores and ecommerce options. It also requires a great deal of research and experimentation to find zero waste replacements for everything that you consume in your daily life.
Instead of pursuing the immediate goal of eliminating all waste, it’s best to take small steps towards that goal. If you normally use disposable razors, switch them out for an electric razor that will last for years. If you normally use plastic or paper bags at the store, start taking your own reusable bags to carry your purchases in.
There are hundreds of online resources filled with ideas for how to reduce waste in every area of your life. You don’t have to start huge, but you can easily make small changes in a number of areas that all add up to reducing the impact you have on the environment.
Can online shopping be zero waste?
E-commerce is one area that is incredibly difficult to adopt a zero waste mentality. It’s hard to completely eliminate non-recyclable or reusable packaging in all of your orders and there are many times where you don’t necessarily have a choice in whether you buy something or not. In the last year, e-commerce has seen a huge boom as people were forced to stay at home and shop online, which inevitably produced a sizable amount of waste from the packaging and boxes required to get people their goods.
That’s where the EcoCart Chrome Extension can fit into a sustainable lifestyle looking to reduce the carbon footprint that they generate from shopping online. When you checkout with EcoCart, you can shop online without having to worry about your carbon footprint. It’s still important to recycle and reuse packaging and make wise purchasing decisions, but EcoCart can take a great deal of work out of that process for you. EcoCart is perfect for people with busy lives who may not be able to devote the time, energy, or money to attempting to live a zero waste lifestyle, but still want to take an extra step to make sure they’re being thoughtful about their carbon footprint.
Sustainability is an important goal for everyone, and there are lots of different ways to live more sustainably. While extreme examples of people living radical lifestyles to reduce their impact on the planet are inspiring and important for changing the narratives around what is really important in our society, they are not attainable for everyone. They often require a significant amount of effort, resources, and research to pursue and many people do not have the privilege of being able to do that. This is why simple, easy-to-use eco-friendly tools like EcoCart are essential for the future of sustainability. Saving the planet doesn’t have to be hard, and you can even have fun doing it!