As implied in the phrase, a zero-waste lifestyle is a lifestyle that produces no waste or very little waste. That means no plastic spoons, no unnecessary packaging, and no cheap plastic trinkets that break quickly and end up the garbage a week after acquiring them. It can also mean cloth diapers, family cloth instead of toilet paper, bulk spices, and a million other little and big things.
There are numerous benefits to embracing this type of lifestyle and some of them may surprise you. Want to know why you should be on board with zero-waste living? Take a look:
1. Humans produce an unprecedented amount of waste.
The average human produces 4.3 pound of waste per day. That means, on average, if you weigh 150 pounds, you are producing your body weight in garbage every 35 days. In 1960, the amount of garbage people produced per day was only 2.7 pounds per day.
When you think about how much population has increased during that time and the fact that the amount of garbage being produced continues to increase almost daily, the numbers are staggering.
2. Garbage is filling the earth and the sky.
All of that rubbish needs to go somewhere, and in the United States, 55 percent of the garbage produced goes to one of the roughly 3,500 landfills in the country. The word landfill describes the situation perfectly - the garbage is literally filling the land.
However, it doesn't stay there. Solid waste landfills produce wild amounts of methane, a toxic gas, and in fact, these venues are responsible for over a fifth of all the methane released into the atmosphere. In other cases, people often burn garbage that doesn't make it to the landfill, and this, too, fills the sky with unhealthy chemicals and compounds.
3. Waste has a lasting effect on the earth and the environment.
Although a plastic water bottle only provides a few moments of convenience and enjoyment, it provides several lifetimes of environmental degradation. Depending on the type of plastic, it can take 450 to 1,000 years to break down.
However, if left in warm ocean water, plastic breaks down relatively quickly, but it breaks into toxic chemicals likebisphenolA (BPA) and PSoligomer. These filled the bellies of fish, litter shorelines, and generally poison the ocean and its resplendent creatures.
4. Zero waste is healthy.
Although the environmental reasons are compelling enough on their own, they are not the only reason you should consider jumping aboard the zero-waste movement. It also offers benefits to you personally as well. Namely, embracing zero waste tends to make your diet healthier.
By avoiding waste, people have to stay away from over packaged junk foods, frozen dinners and other processed fare. Instead, they opt for vegetables wrapped in natural, biodegradable peelings or foods sold in bulk such as grains, spices and the like.
5. Zero waste saves money.
Zero waste benefits your pocket book as well as your body. In many cases, because you are not paying the premium for packaging, you save money while shopping. Also, because you're committed to a lifestyle that shuns convenience food, you're forced to plan ahead, which often results in healthier eating and lower grocery bills.
Additionally, washing your own diapers, using cloth toilet paper or a bit of water and your hand, embracing rags instead of paper towels and other waste-free solutions also save you money. Finally, many adherents of the zero-waste lifestyle also choose to stay away from clothing that has just been produced. Instead, they head to the second hand stores where prices tend to be low.
6. Zero-waste builds community.
Browsing the racks at second hand shops, joining the local food co-op, taking a composting class at the community center and other aspects of the zero-waste lifestyle also achieve another goal. All of those activities can help you meet people and build community.
If you want to connect with like minded people and take your environmentalism a step further, it may be time to embrace zero-waste living. The reasons listed above are just a small slice of why this movement is one you should join. Ultimately, it may have the power to save the world, literally.