What you should know about Zero Waste
Yes, the term “Zero Waste” means not only zero plastics, it means no waste at all. Maybe there are some people on this planet who can really do this. But for the rest of us Zero Waste will be impossible. If that sounds hard for you, don´t worry, I´ll explain it to you. You can try as hard as you want, most of the time it won´t work to live without waste.
But I´m here to tell you two things: 1) it´s okay and 2) it´s not your fault, it´s the system you´re living in. You can decide to live Zero Waste and do everything in your power. But if you´re going into the stores around your home and you can´t find flour which is unpacked and there are also no alternatives, then it´s not your fault. Therefore it´s very important that you understand that it´s not about trying do it perfect while you´re despairing. Expecting individual perfection while we´re living in an imperfect system is really silly.
So if I´m using the term “Zero Waste” I´m not talking about living without using or producing plastics, I´m talking about a sustainable and aware way of living. Zero Waste is not only about trying to produce less waste it´s also about rethinking your consume and your behaviour in general: reduce your dependence on things, use what you need and find a new home for all the stuff you don´t need.
Current Situation: Sustainable Living is missing
Even though the topic of our growing pollution problem is getting more and more attention (especially on Social Media ), most people don’t think too much about the trash they produce and throw away every day. On Social Media you can find wonderful and inspirational blogs about this topic, showing that it´s not impossible to care about our planet by changing our behaviour in our daily life.
But if you put your mobile phone aside, then you will probably notice (just like me) that most people in your environment hardly give a f*** about this topic. Some of them just don´t know how grave the problem already is or haven´t realize the impact of their behaviour and some just don´t care. One or the other might not use the additional plastic bag when shopping, but that’s it.
Don´t get me wrong there are already a lot of people doing great work, but that´s simply not enough. We cannot stand by and watch while we destroy our planet just because there are already a handful of people dealing with this issue. It’s not enough to tackle this problem if a few of us give their best while the rest just goes on as usual. Our planet needs all of us! Cause every single one makes a difference.
But before you start rethinking your behaviour and reducing your amount of waste you should know some information about this wonderful way of sustainable living (people call Zero Waste), so here we go:
Our main problem: (Over-)consumption
Living means consuming and consuming is what we do 24 hours a day. We consume the essentials we need for living like air, water, food and so on. But as you know these are not the only goods we consume. We consume an unbelievable amount of different services and goods like clothes, electronic devices, entertainment, bags, jewelry, furniture and so on. The list is endless. If we´re honest this consumption is out of control. Day by day we buy stuff we don´t need for one simple reason: WE CAN.
The market is filled with goods and thanks to the internet we do not even have to leave the house to buy something. Of course there are always some goods or services which are too expensive for us, but in general we own the privilege to buy all the stuff we want to: a new mobile phone (even tough the old one is still functioning perfectly), a new dress (even tough we have more than enough dresses in our wardrobe), a new bed (cause the colour of the old one is currently not in) or a new car (cause the old one is already two years old). I´m sure everyone of us knows situations like these, we experience them every day.
What matters in your life?
Our system does it´s best to make us want more, make us by more and make us waste more. And this system in combination with our behaviour has terrible effects on our environment and society. If we won´t change something our ecosystem will collapse, numerous animal species will become extinct, habitats will degrade, and many more people will live in extreme poverty and die from the following lack of resources and especially hunger.
Typing these lines makes me so incredibly sad because this will soon be reality if we don’t change anything. We need to get back to our roots, remember what’s really important for us and what matters. Happiness and contentment isn´t something you can buy. It´s something you have to feel. And therefore, we have to rethink our life.
Do we need all these clothes in our wardrobe? Do we have to buy each year a new mobile phone? Or do we have to fly around the whole world for a two-week vacation? Do we have to eat fruits which are important from another continent just because we want to eat strawberries during the Christmas time? Or do we need a hundred different cosmetic products that have been tested on animals and contain microplastic? Do we have to take the car instead of walking 15 minutes?
I could write down many more of these questions but I´m sure everyone understands what I want to say. We have to think about what really matters in life. And that´s something very personal. I can´t tell you what really matters in your life or what is your centre of life. You have to define it on your own. And therefore, you have to take some time for yourself. What makes you happy? What makes you complete? And what do you want to reach in your life? What do you not need anymore? Where do you want to be? And who should be with you?
Maybe you can´t answer all these questions right now, maybe you need some time, but that´s absolutely okay. Take as much time as you need but answer these questions and define for yourself what matters in your life. For me it´s not about the materialistic stuff, it´s about the people around me, my inner attitude and my vision to inspire people and to make a difference. It took me a long time to realize that, but it feels really good that I´ve defined it.
“There is enough in the world for everyone´s need; there is not enough for everyone´s greed.” – Gandhi
You can make a difference
Before I start to talk about what sustainable living and Zero Waste is I´ll tell you something super important. Zero Waste sounds super crazy cause if we start taking a look at the amount of trash, we (and the people around us) throw away every day. And it could make you feel horrible. Especially when you watch videos or take a look at pictures showing how animals are suffering or dying from plastics. Or if read some facts about plastics like the following ones from Plastic Oceans and Global Citizen:
- “1 in 3 species of marine mammals have been found entangled in marine litter.”
- “Over 90% of all seabirds have plastic pieces in their stomachs.”
- “Plastic is killing more than 1.1 million seabirds and animals each year.”
- “More than 8 Million Tons of Plastic are dumped in our oceans every year.”
- “A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.”
- “Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute. A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes.”
- “Estimates are that around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.”
- “73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic.”
It seems like we can´t change anything cause the facts are just a horrible eye-opening truth. And our daily life gives us this feeling as well. For example, if you avoid the plastic bag while shopping and the woman behind you takes two instead of one, you´re asking yourself what you´re doing it for.
But thinking that you can´t make a difference by overthinking and changing your lifestyle is definitely the wrong thought. Each avoided plastic packaging or plastic item makes a change. Especially for the animals in the sea but also for the rest of our wonderful planet. So, stand up and make a change! Save our planet!
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis
What is Zero Waste?
The aim of Zero Waste is to send nothing to a landfill by reducing and rethinking what we need. All the waste you can´t avoid will be reduced, reused, recycled or composted. It´s all about redefining the system we´re currently living in.
If you start to deal with this topic, you will quickly realize that Zero Waste is not just waste avoidance, it´s a way of sustainable living. It´s about reducing the amount one consumes and consequently throws away and while doing this you´ll automatically simplify your life. This way of living can achieve sustainability, improve the lifespan of many products, combat global warming, reduce the environmental footprint, save money, built up a healthy life, reduce the burden of landfills and so on.
The average German household sends 450kg of trash to the landfills every year. That’s more then 1,2kg per day. 1,2kg per day? Seriously?? That´s such an unbelievable big number and shows in which kind of society we´re living in. Even though we separate our trash only a super small amount (less than 10%) could be recycled and therefore a really big amount of energy is needed. The rest will be burned. So what´s the best alternative? Not creating any trash at all (or at least as little as possible). And therefore, our society needs a change.
Changing our habits – changing our society
We don’t need everything we think we “need”. But nevertheless, we buy it. Most of the products we own, or we buy are unnecessary luxury (which we throw away soon, cause we´ll replace it). Don´t get me wrong, I don´t want to tell you that all the stuff you own is useless, and you don´t need it. But I´m sure if you´re 100 percent honest to yourself, you´ll agree with me that you have a lot of stuff you don´t use. No matter if it´s something to wear, something to decorate your home, an old electronic devise, a lipstick you don´t like or whatever. You´ll find more than just one thing.
Therefore, before making any purchase, wait. Take some time and ask yourself if you truly need it. If your answer is “yes”, then try to think in a more sustainable way and don´t just buy it. Maybe you can buy it second hand or from a company who produces in a fair and eco-friendly way.
If you rethink every purchase most of the time your answer will be “no, I don´t really need it”, or you have the possibility to buy it second hand and that´s already a good start. We have to stop over-consuming and start thinking about what really matters. For example, saving our planet.
“We don´t need a handful of people doing Zero Waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” – Anne Marie Bonneau
Sometimes being not Zero Waste is the more sustainable option
Before you start with sustainable Living and Zero Waste there are two more things. The first one is that you should take a look at this great blog post. It shows you that waste should not be your first priority.
Reducing your amount of waste is very important but if you think in a sustainable way there are sometimes things which are more important. Here´s an example out of this blog post: “Given the choice between an ethically-made garment from organic, fair-trade cotton shipped in a polybag or a regular cotton garment from a non-transparent brand that I can buy without the bag, I will always choose the first option. This is because I feel that supporting the first company has a much greater impact throughout the supply chain, than the impact of saving a plastic bag.”
Define your “why”
And the second is that you should define your “why”. What is the why behind your doing? Why do you want to start reducing your start living sustainable and going Zero Waste? Is it because you have seen beautiful places polluted by waste? Is it because you have seen animals dying? Or it because you´re afraid of the health scare issue plastics could lead to? Is it because you want to stop consuming and start act with greater awareness? Or it because you want to save our planet? Is it because you want to make a difference?
There are so many different reasons and no matter what´s your reason you should define it for yourself. Write it in your diary, write it on a piece of paper, write in your Insta bio, write it on your mirror, tattoo it on you (just kidding), … It doesn´t matter where you´re writing it down, but you should. So that you´ll never ever forget it.
Reducing your waste and changing your behaviour could be really hard and maybe you´ll struggle sometimes. Sometimes you have to take the harder and not that comfortable way. Sometimes people won´t understand your attitude and your behaviour. And sometimes you´ll feel like you don´t make a difference cause everyone around you gives a f**** (but believe me, you´re making a difference!). And that´s when your why is important. It will remind you why you are doing all this and help you not to give up. It gives you your strength back!
No matter how hard it will be, never forget that you´re doing an unbelievable job and every single step counts! YOU ARE A WORLD SAVIOUR!
YOU ARE A WORLD SAVIOUR!
Share your thoughts and inspirations with us in the comments below. Did you already start you journey of sustainable living? What’s keeping you from changing something in your life so far? What is difficult for you living an aware life? We would love to read about it.
Lots of love,