1. What the Heck is Zero Waste?

Now, I’m sure that so many of you heard, if you have made your way here about zero waste and you’re thinking, oh, zero waste. What the heck? What the actual heck is that? it’s a lot less terrifying than it actually sounds.

So a couple of definitions to start off with: Zero Waste is a movement whose motive is to produce as little waste as possible; specifically, focusing on reducing your plastic waste. We will get to plastic waste later in the episode.

Low waste is a very similar thing, but focuses on a more holistic view of this.

I will use these interchangeably, but know that there is a little bit of a difference. One huge thing. Zero waste is not a true possibility. We live in what is called a linear economy. A linear economy is where we take stuff from the ground or the trees or something from our environment. And we take that. → We go to manufacturing. →It’s shipped to the store. →We use it. →It goes into the trash.

That is the model that society, and more specifically, our economy is focused on and the way that it’s working that said a true zero waste society would actually follow what is called a circular economy. 

We still need those original resources in order to make the stuff that we may get and needs to live, but instead of thinking, oh, I’ll throw this out, when I’m done with it, it’s done so that you have the end goal in mind. 

For example, all of my products are designed so that they can be composted at the end of their lives. They go back into the earth.

You don’t have to worry about it being here 5 million years from now. Well, not 5 million, but like a thousand, so zero waste is not possible. That does not mean that we cannot try to reduce our waste though

So if you’ve been in this area for any amount of time, you know, the five R’s refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, and recycle.

These might be in a little bit different order than you’re used to. And there is a reason for that.

Refuse

Refuse is very simple, and yet one of the hardest things to do. We are taught, “Hey, it’s free. Take it.” Usually those free things are not great for the environment are usually made of polyester or nylon or things that are not biodegradable or compostable.

Reduce

Choosing to consume less in your life in order to minimize the amount of waste. Refuse and reduce and reduce kind of go hand in hand, reducing is you’re just reducing the amount that you’re coming in to. Deuce the amount of waste that you make. And also reducing, looking at the plastic and the packaging that everything is in.

Reusing

This one is the most Pinterest worthy. You’ve all seen those pins that are like “15 ways to reuse wine bottles” or “Nine shocking ways to reuse pottery” or anything like that. There is a lot, but reuse does not only mean that. 

It is looking and finding ways around the need to go buy something new. Can you borrow something, use someone else’s tool or can you rent it, instead of having to go buy a new one? 

It’s just so important to look at the whole picture instead of just automatically being like, okay, I need to go buy this thing. 

Rot

Rot is just another word for compost. And the reason why this is above where recycle is, which what used to be second-to-last, is because we cannot recycle our way out of the plastic crisis. We just cannot, we’ve been sold on this idea from big companies who do not want to make the changes that these emissions come from. 

Recycling 

Yes. If you have it recycle, but it is not the first one. In fact, it’s the last one that you should be looking. Zero waste is a journey. No matter where you are, we will all have big flubs.

We will all mess up sometimes. But one big, big thing. Zero waste is not a mandate, nor is it a moral judgment on everyone and everything around you. 

So why should I care?

There is the impending climate crisis. I mean the climate crisis already exists, but we have that 2030, which is less than a decade away of that point of no return.

It’s environmentally friendly. Eco-friendly, when I talk about it on this podcast, is that you’re aiming to reduce your impact on the environment as much as you can.

Zero waste goes hand in hand with conscious consumerism. It helps you reprogram your mind so that instead of being like, “Ooh, shiny,” you look at the shiny and be like, “Okay, well, do I need it? Is it something that I will use consistently and after I’m done using it, where will it go?” That helps you reprogram your mind so that you are a better consumer and as a side benefit, you also end up with less to clean because it tends to lead to having less stuff.

Many big businesses are not working on a zero waste model. They are not focusing on the impacts that their stuff is having on the environment, having on their local environment. So you can vote with your dollar.

By buying small, not only are you going to help a small business person thrive, but also you’re showing the big businesses that, Hey, we don’t like the shit that you’re doing, so you need to stop or else you’re going to see a mass reduction in profits.

And my favorite, it saves money. I’m a frugal person. I love the amount of money that it saves me, me each and every day. 

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