ZERO WASTE: What it is and how to be it

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Are you one of those who care about the environment and looking for ways to reduce pollution? Do you think that no matter how hard you try it is very difficult to reduce the use of plastics? If you would like to start reducing all kinds of garbage and you don't know how to start making it happen, pay attention. The first thing to clarify is that, as the saying goes, "the one who cleans the cleanest is not the cleanest, but the one who dirties the least", so we encourage you to start by making much less dirt, reducing the waste you generate as much as possible.

At Ecologista Verde we care about the environment and the future of the planet and, therefore, of everyone. Therefore, a guide on what is zero waste or zero waste and how to be it. Start reducing your pollution footprint!

What is zero waste or zero waste

As the name suggests, the zero waste movement or philosophy focuses on trying to generate the minimum amount of waste of any kind, that is, to reduce the generation of waste as much as possible, also in the elimination of existing ones, through reuse and recycling. Finally, another of the pillars of zero waste is to promote the manufacture and use of new products, of whatever type, that are made with reusable and recyclable materials, as well as that they are durable. A simple example of this is using a cloth shopping bag instead of a plastic one.

Before delving further into the subject, let us clarify another very important aspect on this subject: zero residual doesn't really exist, but zero waste can exist. It is impossible not to generate a single waste, because this is nothing more than what comes out and is left over from the use of materials or elements (for example, when we breathe we leave a residue: CO2) and this happens in nature. What this movement seeks to achieve is to reduce them as much as possible, especially the most polluting, and it does seek to eliminate waste that is considered elements that can no longer be used. If we look at nature, there are all kinds of waste (which are used), but we will never see "natural waste" (waste that cannot be reused by nature).

Where did the zero waste movement originate?

The philosophy of life from zero waste started in California, throughout the 70's. The impeller was Paul palmer. This man always defended the idea that it makes no sense to manufacture containers that are to be thrown away after use and that are very resistant, for example with plastics, and that they are for something that we are going to use for a short time. For example, plastic cups and plates for parties or coffee or tea take-out cups from coffee shops. This is a material that is intended for single use only and then thrown away, but at the same time it is so resistant that it takes hundreds or thousands of years to completely break down in nature and depending on the plastic, even much longer. Paul started with this idea and from there began the zero waste movement.

Apart from the founder of this thought, there are people who have become a benchmark, such as Lauren Singer, who is a young environmental activist who lives without producing garbage in the heart of New York, one of the most populated cities in the world and which, therefore, produces more garbage. Other relevant people in this movement and who share their knowledge so that we all join in are Bea Johnson and Kathryn Kellogg.

Why start being zero waste

If after reading the above you still have doubts about the reasons to start being zero waste, take note of this data on the waste we generate around the world.

  • We dump millions of tons of plastics into the seas and oceans. Specifically, 165 million tons in recent years.
  • In the last half century, the production of plastic has multiplied by up to 20, but scientists have calculated that, if it continues like this, it will triple in the next 30 years, exceeding 1,100 tons.
  • This ratio indicates that there would be 1.1 tons for every 3 tons of fish in the oceans. This means that there will be much more plastic than fish.
  • Still, almost 95% of plastic containers are thrown away and accumulate in the environment with just one use.

Furthermore, many of these are among the waste that takes longer to disappear. Check here how long the waste takes to degrade.

Studies and reports are still being carried out, but one of the ones that contributed the most in the last few years was the report The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics from World Economic Forum[1].

Tips to reduce your garbage and be zero waste

How to start having a zero waste life? It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, because at the end of the day it is about making a good change of mentality for our day to day, but you will see that it will be very easy by following these tips:

Check a zero waste blog

There is a great variety of these blogs and websites, since in recent years many have emerged and in all languages. We recommend that you find one of your liking or, even better, that you follow several, to collect as many ideas as possible from people who already carry out a zero waste lifestyle. You can also join communities and forums on this topic, so you can always share your experiences and ideas and ask questions.

Reduce as much as possible

As we have already indicated at the beginning, this point is vital to improve the problem of pollution on the planet. To do this, try to responsibly consume any type of product, that is, buy thinking well about your real needs. Avoid buying to buy, because you like the packaging, the smell, the color, etc., stick to the products you need and from the offer there choose the most eco-firendly that you find and like.

It is also very important that you reduce energy consumption at home. This other article by Green Ecologist on How to save electricity at home can help you.

Use cloth or ecological bags

One of the simplest things to do to end the plastics abandoned in the environment is to stop using plastic bags and start using the paper, cardboard or cloth, that is, the ecological options.

Here we give you several ideas of Alternatives to replace plastic bags.

Buy in bulk

If you have the option while shopping, feel free to buy the products in bulk, rather than picking up bundles and packages of packaged goods unnecessarily. If you look at supermarkets, sometimes there are products that have a lot of plastics and cardboard that are not really necessary, such as double or triple packaging. This will be easier for you if you go to buy organic supermarkets and organic products but there are more and more stores that offer these options again.

Do things yourself (DIY)

As much as possible, choose to do it yourself. Even if it seems like you are wasting time, you will really save money, health and help improve the environment. You can make at home from your own colognes and artisan soaps, to laundry detergent and dish soap and household cleaning products.

Use bars of soap

Related to the above, we recommend that you always use bars of soap instead of soap, shampoo or liquid detergent. The reason is that in its liquid version we spend much more than necessary without hardly realizing it.

Use a water filter

By opting for a filter for the faucet, you will use much less plastic bottles, because at least you will leave out the water ones. In this other post from Green Ecologist we leave you a tutorial on How to make a homemade water filter to drink.

Give clothes a second life

We recommend both buying second-hand clothes in good condition, and giving yours to those who may need it. Another option for clothes that you no longer use but that are no longer in an acceptable state, is to cut them up and reuse them in creative ways or, at least, as cleaning cloths, extending their life to the maximum.

Reuse and recycle

To complete the 3Rs, apart from reducing as much as possible, it only remains to reuse and recycle the rest of the waste generated. To reuse something, you just have to think about what other ways that material can be used, or it may only take a small repair to remain useful for much longer.

In this other article we show you several Tips to reduce the use of plastics and packaging.

How to find a zero waste store

Although it may seem very complicated right off the bat, it just gets easier, again. I say again because, really, before the large supermarkets, all food stores, personal hygiene products, etc., in fact, produced minimal waste compared to the current ones. For find zero waste stores, you mainly have to make sure that they sell their bulk products, offer paper or cloth bags or allow you to bring your own container (bottle, lunch box or tupper, etc.) to be able to take the products home with you.

Some stores even offer their products in reusable packaging, so that the next time you go shopping you can take it and refill it, instead of taking a new one. This is the case, for example, of some perfumeries that manufacture their own natural perfumes.

To find them you can search the internet in your area, in this way you will be able to know both the exact location and the opinions of the users. You can also talk to your family, friends and neighbors, that is to say with people who live in the same area that you, so they can tell you if they know any store of this type, be it a small one that has always been or some of the newer ones that are emerging more and more, especially in large cities.

If you want to read more articles similar to Zero waste: what it is and how to be it, we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category.

  1. The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics from World Economic Forum:
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