Zero Waste: A Circular Mindset

The concept behind zero waste is to reduce waste that goes into the landfill. Our society has a linear system for production.

 

Zero Waste Linear Diagram

 

Ideally, we want a circular system for production. We have a limited amount of natural resources, and right now we are consuming them rapidly.

Why are landfills a problem? Two reasons:

1. Air pollution
Landfills produce many gasses, but the most serious one is methane. It is the most potent greenhouse gas that traps heat.

2. Groundwater pollution
When trash starts to decompose it also produces a liquid called leachate. It’s a thick liquid that is similar to extreme sewage water. Newer landfills have protective barriers to keep leachate from seeping into the ground. Unfortunately, older landfills don’t have the same type of barriers, causing contamination to groundwater.

 

That is why reducing waste is so important. In zero waste, there are 5 R’s to help cut down on waste:

Refuse
Politely say no to things you do not need. That includes all the freebies like pens, t-shirts, flyers, mugs, etc.

Reduce
If you have an excess of one thing, give it to a friend, donate it, or sell it. Do you need four bottles of shampoos? The 11 similar looking black shirts? Or the six hammers you’ve collected over time since it keeps getting lost?

Living with less is very freeing. Fewer things to worry about, fewer things to clean, and less mess around your home!

Reuse
Instead of buying new items, buy them used. Thrift stores and consignment shops are great places to start. Not only are you keeping stuff out of the landfill, but you are also saving money! If it’s something that you don’t use too often (like a saw or sewing machine), trying borrowing it from someone.

Rot
Rot is all about composting. There are many resources out there for compositing. Also, some cities have composting facilities to make it much easier.

Recycle
Recycling programs vary from city to city. Not all places can recycle glass, or all types of plastics, or even cardboard milk cartons. It depends on the facility around your area.