The term ‘zero waste’ and the act of striving to replace one-use items with recyclable and nature-friendly alternatives first began in 2011. It initially started as as challenge to fit a years worth of rubbish into a mason jar, a task many tried and failed within a few days.
As of 2019 though the trend has started to become a movement.
Zero-waste shops have opened across the country, spreading from crowdfunded stores like Bulk Market in Hackney, London to independent stores in the Lake District, Manchester and Newcastle. Local stores are opening in smaller towns and pop-up market stalls and travelling salesman are going from town to town selling bulk items and organic, recyclable replacements to single-use plastics like the salesman of old.
Why is it becoming a movement now though?
Well, after the horrific video of a sea turtle having plastic straws removed from its nostrils came to light across social media a call for the ban of plastic straws went national. Now most chain restaurants and cafes have replaced their plastic straws for paper ones as a means to lower the number of plastic straws going into the sea and landfill. Metal straws have become available to buy so that customers can even bring their own alternatives along to companies that still offer plastic straws, like McDonald’s.
Such a simple thing as a video triggered a much larger conversation which has continued to spread over the last year and as of 2019 zero-waste is becoming the new buzzword in cities and towns.
But not only is zero-waste a trend it is also a movement.
A new form of eco-hippie is forming in the everyday user as they walk around a superstore chain and realise that nearly every item of food is housed in wasteful and unnecessary plastic containers or wrapping. Supposedly this is to make the products last longer on the shelves, but with sell-by-dates often passing far sooner than the produce itself is unsuitable to eat do we really trust superstores to understand what ‘preserving’ our food for longer actually means?
The statistics of plastic speak for themselves when it comes to wasteful and unnecessary plastic polluting our planet.
According to the National Geographic over 91% of plastic isn’t recycle. It takes 400 years for plastic to degrade which means that most of all plastic products ever created are around and polluting the earth in our oceans, landfill and beaches.
When you consider that the largest quantities of plastic ever produced began in the year 2000, in the last 18 years plastic has contributed more pollution than any other pollutant in the centuries before. It kills over 100,000 mammals and over 1 million forms of sea-life per year due to the contamination of the sea and natural habitats and that number is only growing.
With these figures in mind, plus plenty of others when it comes to products we forget aren’t easily recyclable, like tampons, shampoo bottles, condoms, washing up liquid containers, clingfilm etc, you begin to realise the size of the problem that we’re facing as a planet.
These figures have frightened many into making a change. Moving away from the mason jar challenge to generally making lifestyle changes that are easily applicable and helpful in the long run, zero-waste lifestyles have become a movement that is set to define 2019.
Zero-waste lifestyles do not need to be obviously life-changing, instead they need to simply be a form of changing your way of life.
Instead of remaining a consumerist shopper, going zero-waste makes you more aware of what you’re actually buying and encourages you to re-use items that we would have otherwise thrown away. Investing in a life-time razor, for example, with exchangeable blades may seem costly to begin with, as these average out about £35-50 each, but once you have one you never need to replace the razor, simply the blade. And that means you won’t have to throw away five plastic shavers after use every couple of months.
Also as an example, changing tampons or sanitary towels for period pants or menstrual cups means that you’re not harming the environment with items that are not easily recyclable, and are known for blocking sewers and travelling into the sea.
Swapping superstores with their over-use of plastic wrapped products for local food vendors, bulk stores or simply growing your own produce, helps independent stores, the environment and more often yourself as you’ll find that your food bill will significantly lower over time and your diet will become much healthier.
Zero-waste may seem like a extraordinary and difficult challenge but once you get going you’ll realise that the long-term benefits are worth any struggles that you might have to begin with. After a few weeks what seemed unusual to you at first will become natural as we’re simply going back to an old way of living, of re-using items rather than throwing them away after one use.
See what changes you can make to your lifestyle and join this ever-growing movement for the sake of the planet and yourself. After all what are you wasting for?