The growing popularity of the Zero Waste lifestyle and its positive ripple effects
The concept was created by a french-american woman, who decided in 2008 that she and her family would eliminate all waste and useless items in her life.
Eight years later, her book is translated in many languages, she presents her concept on talks all over the world, and more and more people adopt it, especially among Millennials.
On a small scale, it can be seen as an impossible lifestyle because it requires some effort and is the absolute opposite of current trends. But on a large scale, it makes a lot of sense. Especially in the context of resource scarcity and climate change.
The positive ripple effects:
Cutting out or reducing the amount of waste we produce is beneficial in many aspects.
It saves energy: the amount of energy needed to produce and transport packagings is enormous, and so is the energy needed to recycle or dispose of them. In addition, many countries or cities don’t have the technology and finance necessary to properly recycle certain materials, so they end up being wasted.
For example, the energy needed to recycle aluminium or glass containers are only a fraction of the energy needed to produce these materials and transform them in containers.
The idea is to keep materials “in circulation” as long as possible, by reusing or repurposing it. One of the practices for that is the use of containers with deposits that shops can take back and then are reused by the manufacturer. But unfortunately, as this is no longer economically sound, it is not a very popular practice.
Moreover, an economy based on repairing contributes to create employment. The concept of performance economy is based on the principle of replacing energy by labour.
Such a lifestyle also supports the circular economy as it saves resources and encourages to buy local products.
Even though energy recovery or material recovery can be economically sound and remain a better option than landfill, preventing the production of these products and packagings is much more environmentally friendly. And no money is wasted on packaging and advertisement.
In addition, it has a positive impact on our health: many chemicals are used to ensure a long shelf life for food, beauty products or cleaning products, but they end up in our bodies and are damaging. They also have a negative impact on the environment as such chemicals end up in water and soil.
Starting with a shift of mindset
The Zero Waste lifestyle is based on five principles: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost). Following them (in this order) becomes quite easy once we shift our mindset and progressively improve our habits.
Upcycling, or creative reuse, is the process of transforming waste products or by-products into something new and of greater value. Such practice encourages us to be creative, save money and save the planet.
A shift in our mindset is the most important step. Looking differently at our consumption patterns and changing habits can be challenging at first, but today the number of shops selling products in bulk is growing. Let’s hope for a waste-free future!