5 Biggest Myths and Facts about Zero Waste Lifestyle
Are you missing better life because you don’t know what zero waste means?
Zero waste lifestyle sounds good but also seems very challenging. You enjoy watching sustainability influencers showing creative ideas for zero waste home. In real life though, not all of us enjoy crafting home décor or growing own vegetable in backyard. Even carrying your own coffee cup and cutlery in a bag everywhere you go may be too much for you.
But, you know global warming is a real issue and we need to act urgently to prevent much bigger consequences in near future. Is zero waste lifestyle actually good for the environment? Is it possible to have zero waste lifestyle without losing the convenience and paying extra costs? Let’s see if zero waste lifestyle is worth trying or just waste of time.
Why zero waste sounds difficult?
There is no doubt changing lifestyle is not easy. But “lifestyle” is made up with many small activities you repeat every day. For example, healthy eating involves many small activities such as eating more vegetable, cooking at home, planning menus, etc. Zero waste lifestyle is no different from any others. You have a variety of activities to do and a set of new activities makes new routine that becomes a part of your new lifestyle.
So yes, zero waste lifestyle is not a quick change. You need to find what works for you while trying to minimize the waste. As the result, your new lifestyle should be sustainable for you as well as for the environment.
By the way, do you know how many recurring activities you go through every day? Don’t worry, most people don’t know exactly because humans live in subconscious mind 90% of the entire life. But you know you have a lot. This means there are many opportunities to reduce waste in your home.
Examples to reduce waste without extra costs:
- Turning off electric devices and power points on the wall when you don’t need. Reducing electricity usage is the most important as energy usage by residents is responsible for 45% of carbon emissions causing global warming.
- Take public transport, walk, or ride a bicycle rather than driving a car. Extracting and burning fuel fossils is the biggest contributor of the global warming.
- Turn off water tap while you are not using it. For example, you don’t need water while you are brushing your teeth or washing your body. Water is actually a precious commodity as only 0.3% of water on earth is available for us to use.
- When you use citruses, soak peel in vinegar and you just made a multi-purpose cleaning detergent. The peel can be composted after soaking for a week.
- Use old clothes and linens for cleaning before throwing them into a bin
- If you had a garden or a space for plant pots, re-grow vegetables from kitchen scraps. There are a plenty of how-to-guides on the internet.
The list goes on…
You see, these examples are not asking you to spend money or a lot of time. You just need to be more conscious.
If you can’t think about what else to do, have a look at inside of your rubbish bin. Can you live without the items in the bin? What can you do to not to have the item?
“Is zero waste worth the effort? What do I get?”
Myth: You must make NO waste to be zero waste
Fact: Many of your waste can be re-purposed, repaired, re-used, and recycled. Zero waste lifestyle is a way of examining our lifestyle and reducing waste where possible. Everyone has different needs.
Try the following ways:
- Rethink: Before bringing the item into your home, ask a couple of questions. Do you really need it and will you use it? Will it be easy to dispose of at the end of its life? Does it last long or goes into a bin soon?
- Reduce: Buy only what you use. When you want to reduce waste, it is the best to minimize what you bring into your home in the first place.
- Reuse: Before replacing a broken item to new one, find out if it can be fixed easily. Or, can it be re-purposed to something else?
- Recycle/Compost: Composting organic matters is a big help to reduce greenhouse gas. Food waste is responsible for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Find out what your local council can recycle and dispose each material accordingly.
- Materials recovery: Many products such as white goods and computers have mixed materials. Find out the best way to dispose of them in your local area.
- Refuse: There are many materials that cannot be recycled and must go to landfills. Some of them such as Styrofoam, waxed cardboard, plastic toys (unless it says recyclable), and broken glasses. Can you find alternatives made from recyclable materials? Also, you can say no to extra packaging.
Myth: One person can’t make a difference
Fact: We currently have 8.4 billion people on the planet. 1 less plastic bag per person eliminates 8.4 billion plastic bags, which is 67 tons of plastic.
The scale of the problem we have is huge, but this problem is the result from accumulating small activities we do every day. Plastic is not only the waste, but to give you an idea, the world produces 381 million tonnes of plastic waste every year.
If only you are reducing waste in the world, it is not enough. But do you realize that peer-to-peer knowledge sharing is invaluable? Imagine you say “No thank you” to a free plastic pen in front of your friends at a conference and start a conversation. The exponential impact can be astonishing.
Myth: Zero waste takes too much effort and time
Fact: It takes effort and time to change your habit developed over years. Once you have zero waste lifestyle, it will reduce your time, money, and energy.
As we touched earlier, we live in unconscious state most of the time and we don’t need to think about what we do. That is why changing the existing routine requires your brain to think and consciously take different action. In most cases, zero waste ways are simpler and cheaper, but more conscious decisions you need to make at the beginning.
Examples of how zero waste can make your life easier over time:
- By using re-usable shopping bag, you have fewer plastic bags. You need less time to collect and take them to the recycling collection point.
- By composting, re-growing, and sorting other kitchen waste in a “organic waste bin”, you won’t have smelly and wet bin. Since you don’t have wet waste, you don’t need plastic bag.
- By refusing unnecessary items, you can save money and less waste to deal with.
- By choosing better quality products that last longer, you save money and time for shipping and your home is less cluttered. Cleaning house will be easier too.
- By choosing non-toxic, recyclable, or compostable products, you are keeping the environment out of pollution.
Myth: Zero waste is more expensive
Fact 1: Zero waste products can be more expensive as their focus is about longer-lasting quality, non-toxic, and easier packaging disposal. Conventional products such as liquid toiletries in a plastic bottle, processed foods, and single-use cutlery are made for convenience. You should calculate and compare how much actually cost you over the time.
Fact 2: Many people get an idea that zero waste is about switching their household items to zero waste products. Remember, zero waste is about reducing waste, not about using zero waste products. If you already have plastic food containers in usable condition, you don’t need to toss them and buy stainless steel containers. Keep using what you already have and don’t waste them.
Fact 3: When you start learning what you actually need, you will quickly realize that you need much less than you currently have. Less you need, less you spend, less you need to earn, less you need to work.
If you simply keep buying zero waste version of the same items at same quantity, it will cost you more. What you want to achieve by moving to zero waste lifestyle is way beyond reducing the living cost. Being conscious and controlling about your waste is the start of positive changes on our environment which returns better life to us.
Myth: Recycling is as good as zero waste
Fact: Recycling is the last resort of waste management. Recycling involves collecting, separating, cleaning, processing, and all the other same processes as producing new products. Often, recycling is more expensive than making virgin materials. Also, only 10 to 30% of items (depending on the country and material) actually get recycled.
Unfortunately, many materials such as plastics become lesser quality than the original. For example, only some plastics can be recycled up to 3 times and cardboard can be recycled up to 8 times. When the material is not suitable for recycling anymore, they will be sent to landfills. Glasses and aluminum are theoretically infinitely recyclable, but inefficiencies in the real process often led to low percentage of materials recycled. Recycling is not the desirable solution for waste management. Reducing waste in the first place is the priority.
Many people get an impression that zero waste lifestyle is about switching to zero waste products. The core purpose of zero waste lifestyle is about making your life and our environment as sustainable as possible. And the main focus is reducing items you consume and reduce waste where possible.
The feeling, “Zero waste is hard”, is mostly about the effort to change your routine. Changing the routine always takes time and effort for everyone. The question is whether zero waste is worth the effort. We believe zero waste lifestyle is a journey to learn your own needs and optimize your routines around them. While reducing waste is beneficial to our environment, it is also for you to create better quality and meaningful life. When you learn what you really need, it becomes easier to organize your life.
Some zero waste products may be not convenient as conventional products. Some zero waste products are priced much higher than conventional products. You will need to find how much it cost you over a time and think about how the product will fit in your routine. We believe zero waste products will be more convenient and cheaper near future as we demand.
What is your biggest pain point about zero waste products?
Why Your Mind Is Like An Iceberg https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-your-mind-is-like-an-_b_6285584
Water Facts – Worldwide Water Supply https://www.usbr.gov/mp/arwec/water-facts-ww-water-sup.html
Emissions by Sector https://ourworldindata.org/emissions-by-sector
Food waste is responsible for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions https://ourworldindata.org/food-waste-emissions
Shocking Ocean Plastic Statistics https://www.condorferries.co.uk/plastic-in-the-ocean-statistics