Updated: Jun 27, 2020
Going zero waste is more than only reducing the amount in our trash can. It is about accepting our very own responsibility in the climate emergency and biodiversity collapse and act upon it.
Plastic is in our oceans, rivers, backyard, woods... It is a huge issue, among others. We won't recycle our way around it, it is down to our lifestyle to change this.
“Zero waste is the mother of environmental no-brainers.” Jeffrey Hollender, CEO of seventh generation, as quoted in the Story of Stuff
My name is Nelly, and I am currently on a zero waste journey for years. There was no real start for it as I have been concerned about the environment for such a long time - actually trying to reduce my impact on the environment is on my personal agenda for so long...
My main motivation behind it I guess is the need to act. When you realize that this is our modern lifestyle, its overconsumption, its diet, and its insatiable thirst for convenience which is behind the environment collapse, you feel that you need to act upon it. Often I hear people saying "Yes but this is the government fault, they don't do anything" and yes this is true, they don't nearly do enough despite the commitment they took in the COP meetings. I hear also people saying "The companies should take responsibility...", well maybe they should, but if we continue buying their stuff, we actually support their behaviour. "China should do something" is also a common one: their CO2 per capita are still lower than ours and especially if you account that we massively consume what they produce (so we are supporting them polluting). But the third part of this equation is our very own selves. No company is forcing us to buy their stuff, no one is putting meat in our mouth but ourselves, no one is forcing us to sit in a plane. While we know this are precisely the worst things to do. I personally felt that even if blaming others was in a certain extent justified, it wouldn't lead to any solution, especially if I was still completely part of the problem, buying the polluting stuff companies produce for example. So I decided to act at my level. To reduce as much as possible my consumption of single use items. To eat less meat. To buy without plastic. To do things myself.
Now I don't eat meat anymore, I don't fly anymore, I cycle a lot and buy second hand as much as I can. In my household, I don't force anyone else to do so, but I see that my ways are influencing my family. My 3 years old is the only one having his reusable water bottle in the afterschool club, and he is proud not to use single use plastic.. And I have fun making my soaps, deodorants, wax and sugar scrub with my daughter in law! This lifestyle, more than anything, has proven very cheap and I found out that I can easily afford some nicer ecofriendly products as they are so many items I just don't buy anymore. I know that if I am the only one doing this, it wont lead very far, but I believe a lot of us want to act, take responsibility and do what they can. I am far from being perfect : I am still not a vegan, and my trash can is far away from the tiny jar that Bea Johnson, the Zero Waste priestess, fills up in one year (I strongly recommend her book Zero Waste Home by the way). We need millions of us doing it imperfectly, and not a handful doing it perfectly.
What I find really inspiring though, is that Zero Waste is more than emptying your trash can, it is more than only avoiding plastic. Through the 5rs, you first REFUSE, then REDUCE, REUSE. Recycling and Rotting (or Landfill) come last. You declutter your home and simplify the way you run your household to free up time and brain space. You put the experience and the time spent with your loved ones first, and the things second. Bea Johnson says : "The less I own, the richer I feel". Someone else also said : "If you know exactly what you own, you don't own much". Zero waste is more than reducing your waste, it is a whole philosophy of life, making of a gigantic issue the opportunity to take action and focus on important things in life.