Zero waste – an impossible goal?

Zero Waste Lifestyle

When decluttering is not enough

Not long ago I wrote about our target of living with less. Decluttering has become a part of our life; aside from what we’ve thrown away, each week we’ve taken a bag or box of “stuff” to the local second-hand shop. Our home, and life, is slowly becoming less cluttered.

But, as so often happens, something else has captured our attention. We weren’t looking for it, but whether in emails, youtube videos or other reading materials we seemed to be confronted with another concept. Zero waste living.

There is seldom a week where environmental issues don’t make an appearance in the news. Energy consumption, oil spills, or a host of other problems; many could be mitigated if, as consumers, we aim for a zero waste lifestyle.

Litter bin surrounded by rubbish

What is zero waste?

Originally a term applied to manufacturing industries, zero waste is the goal of manufacturing products that can be completely recycled. More recently the term has been adopted as a goal for sustainable domestic living. The aim of these new zero waste concept adopters is to send nothing to landfill.

Going beyond “reduce, reuse, recycle”

Even with our best endeavours to get rid of the clutter from our house, we noticed that more keeps arriving. The goal of achieving a less cluttered, zero waste lifestyle must start by stopping things from entering your home.

In her book “Zero Waste Home – The ultimate guide to simplifying your life by reducing your waste“, Bea Johnson has taken the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra and expanded it in line with zero waste living. In recognition of society’s tendency to ply us things we don’t want or need, Bea says we should start by refusing them. Everything from till receipts, conference “goody bags” and disposable drinking straws – we don’t need them and don’t have to add them to our waste.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are things that we can’t reuse or recycle but, if we’ve made good purchasing choices, we can rot them. Sure, not everyone has a garden to make use of free compost, but millions of us do.

Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Rot.

In the same way that many have spoken about a greater freedom and enjoyment of life by decluttering, zero waste advocates focus on being rather than having. As a family, we are tentatively starting to embrace the zero waste concept. Over the coming months I’ll write about our journey.

Do I think that we will achieve zero waste? Probably not.

Is it a good target for responsible living and care of this sphere we call home? I’d say so.

How about you? What small thing can you do to reduce your waste and maximise you life?

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