What is zero waste?
Miriam Webster defines zero waste as:
generating little or no waste
- The creative waste management strategy of "zero waste" is a combination of community and industrial responsibility that includes deconstruction in spite of demolition, composting to keep odorous organic waste out of landfills, recycling, and a screening facility to allow more separation and reuse of waste rather than incineration. —Aimee Dolloff
We were first introduced to the zero waste idea back in 2014 when I was watching a segment on Raechal Ray with Lauren Singer. Lauren writes a blog called Trash is for Tossers, she also opened a package free shop. Our daughter took off with the idea and did a bunch of research, which led her to the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, which was Lauren Singer’s inspiration.
We’ve always sort of recycled, at least the obvious stuff. I haven’t reused as much as I could because when I was a kid my nana’s house was cluttered (think hoarders!) with different food containers she’d cleaned and saved and it drove me nuts.
What we’ve come to learn is not as many things are recyclable as you’d think, including the packages that have the symbol on them. That is mostly to tell you which kind of plastic it is....very confusing.
As a household that eats plant based, it’s a little more difficult to go completely package free. For example I can’t buy vegan cheese at the deli and put it in my own container (a least not yet!) but for me that’s a trade off I’m willing to make. We have vastly reduced our trash, we compost and have a garden so at least in my mind we’re doing pretty well.
Now what does all this have to do with you? And what are small steps you can take?
We’ve all heard “reduce, recycle, reuse” well it’s actually now “refuse, reduce, reuse”. You’ve probably heard about the ban on plastic straws, even before that actually goes into effect, you can simply say you don’t need straws at a restaurant. You can bring your reusable coffe cup for your morning java, a lot of places will give you a small discount for it. In California we’re charged 10 cents for a bag at the grocery store so most of us bring our own, well what about the produce and bulk bags? Some stores sell packs of reusable bags, or they are available online.
I know it’s a lot! But one thing, one step, one bite at a time. Chunk things down to something that’s manageable for you.