A Girl’s Guide to the Zero Waste Movement

A Girl’s Guide to the Zero Waste Movement

The Zero Waste movement, at first glance, seems like an incredibly idealistic, incredibly romantic way to live. At the same time, it sounds like it could be more restrictive than becoming vegan. It almost feels so impossible and impracticable that most people give up before they even try. 


But Zero Waste doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing dogma. Yes, there is the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), and their goal is to work (as quickly as possible) towards a world without waste. But even they aim to do so through education and practical application. The proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If you’re interested in doing good for the planet but are overwhelmed at the thought of changing every part of your lifestyle, don’t let yourself become overwhelmed. Even small changes can make a difference.


What is the Zero Waste Movement?


To understand what this movement is about, let’s take a look at an example Zero Waste starter kit. It might include some mason jars, reusable cutlery, a reusable grocery bag, and some upcycled spice jars. 


The idea behind Zero Waste is to stop sending garbage to the landfills. ZWIA defines it as:


“The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”


If you think about it, this idea is long overdue. Nearly everything we buy comes wrapped in packaging. A household of three typically empties the kitchen garbage once every other day. That’s a lot of trash. Where does it go?


Is Recycling Part of Zero Waste?


By recycling, we usually mean the act of putting glass, plastic, and aluminum into a recycle bin. There are arguments on both sides. The argument against recycling says that much of what we put in the recycle bin ends up in landfills–either in North America or in third-world countries. Proponents of Zero Waste argue that it’s better to try to refurbish and reuse items instead of dropping them into a bin. Recycling can also mean other things, however, such as taking your old car to a salvage company.


Where to Zero Waste Shop


More and more companies are getting on board with the Zero Waste movement, either in part or in whole. Some grocery stores allow shoppers to bring containers from home (it’s called BYOC–Bring Your Own Containers) for bulk items; a list of such stores can be found at websites like Litterless.com–there are many. Numerous shops online also sell Zero Waste kits for everything from shaving to eating to that time of the month.


Where to Start with Zero Waste


Start by paying attention to your consumption habits. You don’t have to buy a fancy Zero Waste starter kit and dive in headfirst. Instead, think before you purchase new items. Ask yourself:


  • Can I find a product with less packaging?
  • What will I do with this product when I no longer need it?
  • Can I get this from the store to my car without a single-use plastic or paper bag?
  • Was the production of this product harmful to the environment?


Zero Waste in the Bathroom


The bathroom may be one of the easiest ways to get started. If you were to go into your bathroom right now and look at everything you use–toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, hairbrushes, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner–you might be amazed to realize how much plastic and toxicity reside in those items. That’s an easy fix, though. You can find companies like SeekBamboo that offer a whole line of Zero Waste bathroom products, including bamboo toothbrushes, plastic-free dental floss alternatives, lavender shampoo bars, and even complete Zero Waste kits.


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