Zero Waste

I keep hearing zero waste but not really seeing it, even though it can be found all around us so it’s high time you take part too! This new trend (or movement) benefits the environment and the economy. Based on our lifestyle now, we consume 2-3 times more natural resources than is sustainable and our planet can’t catch up with us in replacing them. Each day that goes by, we “borrow” from our children’s future but this could change if we become more conscientious consumers. 

People have started using reusable shopping bags, reusable straws and cups for take away drinks. Even personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes made of bamboo and make up bars have flooded the market. So what is zero waste (no waste production) and why is it important? It’s a lifestyle that requires the adoption of certain habits which allow for a sustainable and natural lifecycle of products. The goal is to avoid the bulk of toxic and other waste. By following zero waste principles we help our finances, the local community, the economy and the environment. But more importantly, we invest in a different future for our children: a clean, healthy and full of life planet earth. 

The 5 main principles of zero waste are:

  1. Refuse anything I don’t really need
  2. Reduce whatever I can, gradually
  3. Reuse bags, jars and anything else
  4. Recycle packaging, furniture, electrical appliances, glass, batteries
  5. Rot, which is essentially composting of organic waste to make fertiliser

Imagine that you are doing your weekly shop at the supermarket: you fill your trolley with things and then go to the checkout and subsequently home to put everything away. How many of the items you purchased, did you actually need? Most people get carried away and buy much more food than is necessary. As a result, a lot rots and goes to waste. It is estimated that approx. 1/3 of the food produced globally for human consumption (that’s 1,3 billion tonnes of food) ends up in the rubbish. That food could have provided to people who really need it but actually, it ends up in the ground, releasing methane which is much worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. 

Apart from the waste of food, a household creates unbelievable quantities of rubbish on a daily basis. If you examine your own rubbish, you will notice that a large proportion is packaging, and most of that is plastic! Packaged vegetables, bags of legumes, bottles of shampoo and cleaning sprays are just some of the examples. Often, the packaging is unnecessary and sadly not even recyclable. Even though the carbon dioxide release for plastic production is 6kg Co2 for every kg of plastic, 35% of plastic produced is for packaging! Even a small package can have a huge impact on the environment due to its production but also because it ends up in the ground as toxic waste, polluting the earth, the sea and putting the lives of animals, fish and birds in danger. 

A zero waste circular economy can offer much more than just a clean planet. By saving and using natural resources to their maximum potential, we save valuable energy. This means we can reduce greenhouse gasses which are the main cause of climate change. New work positions will open up in waste management and conservation and new product development will also benefit the economy. 

As our friend Greta Thurnberg said “I don’t want you to hope. I want you to panic… like your house is on fire”. So take part by starting to make small gradual changes to your daily routines and reducing your waste. Say no to plastic bags, buy vegetables without packaging from your local grocery store, choose a shampoo bar and make your own cleaning products from ingredients already found in your kitchen cupboards. Now more than ever before is the time for action before rubbish literally drowns us. There’s no planet B. 

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Article kindly contributed by Olga Gavrilaki, Green Fingers