What is Zero Waste?

Self Reliance Zero Waste

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Essentially zero waste life is exactly what it sounds like.


Zero- no quantity of number, naught, nothing, none. Waste- eliminated or discarded as no longer useful or required after the completion of a process, instance of using or expending something carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose.


The idea is that you produce no trash, which really means you consume no trash.


When at the store what drives your purchase decisions?


Is it brand loyalty, sale items, upcoming events, impulses, kid friendly, useful, essential?


For a zero waster the first question is will there be trash after I'm finished with this item? The next question is can I reuse the waste rather than send it to a landfill?


If you can't answer yes to the second question, it will contribute to your trail of trash, and therefore is not zero waste.


Here’s a list of the zero waste life rules. These are not sovereign, and each person has to fine-tune this list to fit their needs, but for me it’s:


1.       If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.


2.       Always by secondhand. (My exceptions would be linen/underwear/mattresses)


3.       Eat at home.


4.       Avoid packaging.


5.       Carry food storage, drinking containers and utensils at all times.


6.       Give something old a second life before discarding.


The thing is landfills are a makeshift solution for a HUGE issue. They cause air and land pollution, which tarnish the water we drink, the soil where our produce grows and the air we breathe. Hello lungs!


Humanity has not committed to a long term waste solution, and yet, humans have adopted a nasty little addition— consumerism— which increases the amount of waste used. Seventy percent of those purchases are items we do not need. Which means 70% of the waste produced can be prevented.


Zero wasters go a step further and avoid items we DO need if it comes in packaging. For instance, I live in the Edgewood, which is a few minutes from the Kroger shopping center on Moreland. Yes, there are plenty of assorted teas to choose from, but they are all boxed up in paper and plastic and more paper and staples. I opt for a store called Nuts 'N Berries, which is near Brookhaven for my teas, just to avoid a little bit of packaging.


Rice, pasta, beans, trail mix, oats, flour, olive oil, soap and honey are all brought in bulk. I buy package-less fruits and vegetables. I have a list of items that are NOT waste free. In my transition, I hope to find no-trash alternatives to each.


Primitive people were resourceful to gather food, clothing and shelter. I try to mirror their minimalism behavior in the 21stcentury world. 


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