The term ‘zero waste’ is frequently thrown around as a buzzword online but what does it actually mean? Why is it important to think about? What does zero waste look like for the average person? We are hoping that through this blog post and our weekly #zerowasteswap series we can answer some of these questions.
What is zero waste?
Zero Waste is a global movement towards a reduction of waste, the hope being that this will result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution and a move towards sustainable production practices. The ultimate goal is to have no waste end up in landfills but instead have it repurposed for other uses.
Why is it important?
In Hamilton, we produce close to 250,000 tonnes of waste each year, the majority of which goes straight into landfill. By accepting this fact as normal, we send the message (unconsciously) that this is okay and that nothing needs to change. By reducing our waste and consuming consciously we can shift that message and push for governmental and corporate change. Even small individual actions can lead to larger shifts!
So what does zero waste look like?
This of course sounds really good, of course we all want to be making our planet better for ourselves and others. The reality of it is never that easy, though. For many people, creating absolutely zero waste just isn’t realistic and making a few small changes can feel underwhelming and not worth it. This post (and our #zerowasteswaps series on social media) is meant to act as a starting place for those looking to reduce their waste but not sure whether their potential changes would be worth it. Here are some tips we have for beginning to reduce your waste:
- Start Small, Build Up. It can sometimes feel like we’re under pressure to have everything perfectly figured out from the start – in this case to simply just stop creating waste. We know that this is not really sustainable long term for most people. By starting small with one or two changes, the shift towards larger changes is more manageable. Try it out with one of our zero waste swaps (like these dryer balls) for a week and see how you do! This may not seem like a lot at first but it will add up over time.
- Make it Yourself. DIY is a creative and engaging way to swap out products in your life with sustainable alternatives. Pinterest and Instagram are filled with recipes for cleaners, deodorant, toothpaste, hair gel, etc. If you’re running low on something see if you can make it yourself! Not all of them will work for you but it’s still fun to try.
- Support Local and Shop Secondhand. This one is so important. Think about where your money is going! When you need something, think – is this something I can find near me? Is it something I can find secondhand? Right now it is harder to shop in person but you still have options! See if you can do curbside pickup or order online, try out Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji. Doing this not only reduces the amount of pollution from transportation, it also puts money into your community rather than large corporations.
- Use What You Have. In addition to shopping local and secondhand, use what you have first! It can be tempting to buy a zero waste kit in order to have everything right away but that can create a lot of waste when you end up throwing out unused products. Use up what you have first and then properly reuse those containers – like we have to buy in bulk from Bulk Barn.
- Pair Up. It is much easier to be conscious about your waste if you’re not doing it alone. Reach out to someone close to you to see if they’d like to join you on this journey. These changes won’t happen overnight, and having support around you can keep you accountable while also making it fun! You can also find great supports online, just search for Zero Waste! We have some starting resources listed below.
- Be Kind to Yourself. This one is fairly self-explanatory but critically important. Be kind to yourself! The process of reducing waste is ongoing and never linear so its key to give yourself room to fail and try again. Any progress is good progress and is making a change!
Where do I start?
While we’ve tried to make this as accessible as possible, this is not an easy process and we know it can be overwhelming! Here are some links to helpful information that can start you off:
- Our zero waste swap instagram posts: https://www.instagram.com/green_venture/?hl=en
- The zero waste resources page on our website: https://greenventure.ca/zero-waste-resources-page/
- Compilation of resources from Zero Waste Canada: https://zerowastecanada.ca/resources/
- Why our recycling ends up in the landfill anyway: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/the-sunday-edition-for-april-21-2019-1.5099057/why-your-recycling-may-not-actually-get-recycled-1.5099103
- Zero Waste Hamilton Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zerowastehamilton/
- More background information about the movement: https://ilsr.org/zero-waste-a-short-history-and-program-description/#:~:text=The%20term%20morphed%20into%20Zero,for%20increased%20grass%20roots%20recycling.
Tag us in/DM us your photos of zero waste swaps you’re trying at home! If there are any questions you have, please reach out to ask them.