ZERO WASTE: the alternative of throw-away society

December 15, 2018

After doing everyday activities, such as shopping or preparing dinner, how many items did you throw away? The average person throws away 4.4 pounds of trash each day (EPA). This trash, which you’re throwing away without a second thought is a major problem for our environment.

Recycling is a way that people reduce waste, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem. Recycle bins are utilized to lower the amount of waste in landfills. Unfortunately, even with recycle bins 91% of recyclables aren’t even recycled (National Geographic). Not only are recyclables not being recycled, but the process to reuse them is also very expensive. If recycling isn’t working, what is the alternative?

Zero waste is the alternative. At the turn of the millennium, a new lifestyle and philosophical movement, called zero waste, was established. The goal is for nothing to be sent to the landfill (EPA). People who have adopted this lifestyle reduce what they need, reuse as much as they can, send little to be recycled, and compost what they can’t. Its purpose is to shift the current global economic system from a linear economy to a circular economy, where all discarded materials are cycled and designed to become resources for other use.

Zero waste is a better alternative for one simple reason, 40% of US greenhouse gas emissions come from hauling, making, and throwing away stuff and food (NPR). Hundreds of communities worldwide are joining the zero waste movement. The yearly trash output of people who have joined the zero waste movement is small enough to fit inside an eight-ounce mason jar. In comparison, the average American produces 1,500 pounds of trash a year (Washington Post).  Although, completely eliminating waste is nearly an impossible feat to achieve, minimizing the amount of trash thrown away will help.

The process of reducing waste can be put into a few simple steps: refuse to buy things with lots of packaging, don’t buy things you don’t really need, repurpose worn out items, shop for used goods, and purchase reusable products. Following these steps will help meet the goal of the zero waste.

The next time you’re going to go to grocery store, instead of grabbing a plastic bag on your way out the door, bring your own reusable shopping bag. Although, completely eliminating waste is nearly an impossible feat to achieve, minimizing the amount of trash thrown away will help.

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