Zero waste? Impossible!
Even after carefully dissecting our trash, being sure to drop the right parts of the each items to the right bin, we are forced to relegate some portion of our rubbish into the dreaded “Landfill” stream.
Going “zero waste” is an elusive goal even to the most dedicated, passionate environmentalists. So, for our third Earth Week post, we decided to pose some questions to a curated selection of some of the most dedicated zero waste bloggers.
Living zero waste is defined as diverting 90% from landfills, and these zero wasters have gone above and beyond! Check out their blogs and Instagram for more info, tips, and tricks:
Shia Su: wastelandrebel.com; @_wastelandrebel_
Jonathan Levy: zerowasteguy.com; @zerowasteguy
Kathryn Kellogg: goingzerowaste.com; @going.zero.waste
Katelin Leblond: paredownhome.com; @paredown
I want to live zero waste! Where do I start?
Think about what you really need. Katelin Leblond and Shia Su agree that this is the most logical first step in minimizing waste. Reevaluating your possessions helps you cut down on unnecessary items such as cosmetics and junk foods. After evaluating her products, Katelin asks herself “if the product is deemed necessary can I find a more sustainable alternative or can I make it myself?”
Jonathan Levy suggests cutting out single-use plastics as a simple first step. Single-use plastics include water bottles, plastic bags, plastic packaging, etc., and are the biggest “NO” for any zero waster.
The little things add up! Bringing your own grocery bags or refusing straws at restaurants are easy ways to make a difference. Kathryn Kellogg calls these “passive swaps”.
Separate trash carefully by recycle and compost. If there’s no composting in your area, get a backyard compost going. (You can throw your ReGrained wrappers in there, too!)
Shia Su @_wastelandrebel_
And when I’m ready to take the next step?
Eliminate packaged foods and other wasteful products from your daily life. Katelin Leblond and her family “let go of many foods: dairy in the home, juice, chips, kids snacks, cookies etc...”
Make changes that go beyond just minimizing waste. Shia Su is taking huge steps to further reducing her environmental impact. She downsized her apartment, drinks less coffee to reduce carbon footprint, and has banned synthetic fibres from her wardrobe.
Consume less. Since becoming zero waste, Jonathan Levy rarely buys anything other than food. He says “ I feel very little urge to buy things, just because they are new or in style.”
But what about…
It’s difficult to minimize waste when shopping online. Katelin Leblond requests non-plastic packaging when she online shops. These requests are unfortunately not always granted, but it’s worth the effort to try.
Shia Su has the mindset to not restrict herself, and “makes [her] decisions on a time-to-time basis.” She emphasizes the importance of wanting to live sustainably rather that feeling like she has to. This positivity keeps her excited about minimizing waste.
Jonathan Levy uses the “wasteberg” metaphor to explain upstream waste: “We all know what an iceberg is, right, but what about a wasteberg? Yes, the wasteberg is real! It is estimated that for every one pound of downstream waste (that's the material that we each handle), there is about 70 pounds of upstream waste.”
This is a staggering statistic. But it’s also a reminder of the huge upstream impact you can have by reducing your overall material consumption.
Favorite recipes for reducing food waste?
Shia Su: Pickled Veggie Scraps
Jonathan Levy: Carrot Top Pesto (check out our recipe).
Kathryn Kellogg: Banana Peel Cake
Katelin Leblond: Potato Peel Fries
This sounds great for the Earth and all, but what’s in it for me?
Every one of our contributors shared their stoke about the positive impact going zero waste has had on their life.
Katelin Leblond has experienced “the unintended benefits of increased happiness and gratitude.” She told us, “for the first time in my adult life I am living my values, walking the talk; and I think this naturally brings happiness.”
Similarly, Kathryn Kellogg tells us she loves “the intention behind it. I no longer mindlessly consume. Everything in my house has been carefully curated over time. Everything there is useful or brings me joy.”
Jonathan Levy and Shia have both seen incredible health benefits from going zero waste. Shia Su says, “Zero waste and veganism made me adopt healthier habits gradually. I learned so much about food. I have come to appreciate real food and home cooked meals. It was the first time that I could see how all of it was affecting my body!”
Shia Su @_wastelandrebel_
Can I really be 100% zero waste?
All our contributors agree that being 100% zero waste would be almost impossible in today’s society. Even these hyper-dedicated zero wasters have jars of the bits of trash they’ve accumulated on their journey.
Every zero waster we interviewed emphasized the idea of minimizing waste rather than zero waste. It is important to remember that not everyone has the ability to be zero waste. Minimizing your waste with these tips and tricks is a more sustainable, less overwhelming way to contribute to a cleaner planet.
Happy Earth Week!