It’s a popular buzzword, but how much do you really understand about what it actually involves? Could you do it? Read on to find out whether you could actually become a ZERO-WASTE family.
What is zero-waste?
According to Wikipedia, “Zero-Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills or incinerators. … Zero-waste is more of a goal or ideal rather than a hard target.”
People define for themselves what Zero-Waste means to them. With a toddler, a 5-year-old, a 3 day a week nursing job and all my Little Bunny Bear endeavours, I have decided that I need to do some serious thinking on what Zero-Waste can mean for me, realistically. Perhaps it will be to only choose things that can be recycled, re-used or which will biodegrade and eliminate the rest. But will this be possible and why I am going to consider it?
Each year, the average UK home recycled less than half its waste1. Biodegradable and recyclable waste is sent to landfill including food, packaging and added up to 202.8 million tonnes of waste in 2014. Per person, thats an average of 3.1 tonnes per PERSON. For reference, that’s half the weight of a T-Rex. Did I want to be this person? Do you?
Each year we use up more resources quicker. According to Earth Overshoot Day we now consume over 1.5 earths each year. Landfils are toxic, and they don’t do a great job of actually decomposing our waste. I watched a fascinating BBC documentary where they dug up stuff from an 1980’s landfill. The results were surprising, to say the least: clothes that could have been put on there and then, disposable nappies that looked like they had been taken off the day before. In short: no decomposition at all because there is no oxygen inside the landfill. What we put in landfill just stays there, it’s barely decomposing.
How do you do it?
- First you have to NOTICE. Realise what you are throwing away.
- Secondly, you have to CARE. You have to feel moved to make a change.
- Finally, you have to CHANGE your decisions.
Step 1: NOTICE
I had already reduced or eliminated the waste created by having a baby (see my How to raise a zero-waste baby piece) but what about the rest of our home? I looked at all the items I had currently at home which I used daily or at least weekly. Over half the items could not be recycled (not locally at least). This included many everyday products, film cover on vegetables, plastic lids, crisp packets and screw tops. Here are the results:
Step 2: START CARING
I do care, already. But until I had started to really NOTICE, I realised I didn’t care enough to really change our habits. Looking at the pictures of all our stuff, we would appear (probably) quite a wholesome home. But on closer inspection, this isn’t really the case. When I put our everyday choices under the microscope, the picture is quite different from what I previously believed. Just look at all those red crosses! These are the things that contain one or more elements that cannot be recycled.
WE have all heard about the person who managed to reduce their waste to fit in a mason jar. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
Can Little Bunny Bear’s home become a Zero-Waste household too? I wondered, what could I do to eliminate or reduce the waste I had begun to notice?
step 3: Changing my decisions: ENTER the little bunny bear challenge
I will challenge myself, throughout the month of October 2018, to actively investigate alternative choices to the everyday items I have identified which cannot be recycled. Follow the challenge on Facebook or via the #zerowastechallenge hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to see how I get on….and look out for an update via the blog for my conclusions.
Throughout October, I also challenge YOU, to notice, to consider how much you care and to think about what you can change to move towards being zero waste.