What is zero waste, and why should it concern you?

The movement of ‘zero waste’ has become very popular around the globe, but in order to fully grasp the meaning of this lifestyle, you must understand the reasoning behind it. 

Zero Waste’s aim is to send nothing to a landfill; it’s the conservation of all resources by means of responsible action, consumption, reusing, recycling and composting. The goal is to move our lifestyle to a circular economy, where nothing goes to waste, and we produce no landfill. 

This does not mean we should recycle more; the objective here is to produce less rubbish, so we’ll be recycling less. The key to this aim is your decisions; you have to make the decision of buying only what you need and avoiding what you don’t, reusing more of what you have, don’t purchase what isn’t necessary, reduce your waste creation, and switch to more durable and natural products. The goal of it all is to avoid sending waste to landfills and incineration, and keep the resources’ life as long as possible.

This movement has an impact on our lives on different levels.

Zero waste benefits our environment by reducing our climate impact, as it helps us cut down our greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the production of all kinds of goods, reusing those produced, and recycling. It also helps in conserving resources and minimizing pollution. Reducing the extraction of raw materials used in mass production will reduce pollution, and that can only be achieved by buying less, so mass production can also go down with less demand. Manufacturers will then use recycled goods to create new ones instead of using raw materials.

The movement also has benefits to our communities, as it promotes social equity through community projects that help to reuse goods. This gives them a new life in the home of those who need them most; from food to clothing, everything can be donated and given a new, more valuable use.

Strategies like sharing tools and skills between the members of a community can help build a sense of togetherness, all while reducing costs and waste. It also has a health effect because of the reduction of pollution, cutting down on waste in landfills and incinerators (which makes our air and water less toxic).

Now, let’s talk money. A zero-waste circular economy helps promote local businesses and create new jobs. By keeping resources local, they can be helpful for everyone at different times instead of being used once and then disposed or destroyed. This creates good jobs as resources are endlessly circulating through the local economy.

You can learn more about the environmental benefits and expectations of zero waste here.

However, the effects of our current consumerism levels are very troubling.

We currently have an event that marks the day in which all resources that the earth can produce in a year will be consumed; we call it Earth Overshoot Day.

We’re presently consuming 1.5 earth's worth of resources each year. This is a huge cost on our planet’s raw materials, and it’s causing global temperatures to rise faster and higher, which could modify the earth as we know it to a point where it is no longer habitable for us. 

Only 9% of produced plastic is absolutely recycled. Toxins found in plastic leak into our environment and aren’t good for our bodies, thousands of them house chemicals who are currently still untested

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 23 percent of landfill waste comes from packaging and containers. And millions of metric tons of this plastic ends up in the ocean, as well as releasing hundreds of fibers into the water supply.

Is change possible? Some actionable tips

All these scary but realistic facts bring us to one question; what lifestyle changes can be made through the zero waste movement to help give a longer life to our home, the planet?

At Vitally Vegan, we take being ethical and kind to our earth very seriously. Which is why we’ve prepared a small compilation for you to get started on a zero-waste lifestyle. Here’s what you can do!

  1. Conscious consumerism will help you reduce your carbon footprint. We encourage you to, for starters, eliminate beef and cow-based dairy from your diet if you’re not already vegan, as it can be a key contributing factor to global warming. One of the big benefits to becoming vegan are the positive environmental effects.
  2. Minimize your possessions; you don’t actually need all that you have. Find a way to gradually reduce what you’ve got, stop buying new stuff (unless you buy fair-trade, non-toxic, organic or locally), and buy food that’s in season, or grow your own. Not only will it make your lifestyle healthier, but it’ll reduce your overall costs.
  3. Follow circular economy! Buy from local thrift stores. Everything from clothes and accessories, to all kinds of house items. Stop using plastic; invest in reusable items, like a metal bottle for water, or bamboo cleaning brushes. Try buying things in bulk; you can use this store locator app to find stores that sell in bulk around your area. 
  4. Try DIY to help expand the life cycle of an item; a t-shirt can be repainted and cut to become your new summer crop top!

And last but not least, start using alternative materials to plastic in your house items, such as stainless steel, recycled paper, bamboo, linen and hemp. Choose your cleaning and personal care products carefully, find those that don’t include any harmful chemicals, and try to buy products that are as organic and non-toxic as possible.

Start making changes, become a ‘zero waste squad’ member!

These are just some small tips you can follow to start your zero waste journey. Here’s a link that provides a more thorough list of actions to take into account. You can also look up your footprint in the UK here to help you understand more about the effects of your actions, as well as how to lower chemical exposure in your home here.

At Vitally Vegan, we try to support our customers to make more responsible and conscious changes in their lives, not only through their diet, but also their overall lifestyle. Get in touch if you'd like to talk about ways we can help. If you’d like to start to be more conscious, whether it be for our earth, your health or overall wellness, we’d like to encourage you on giving the zero waste lifestyle a go. Trust us, it won’t be a waste!

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