The idea of making next to zero trash can seem incredibly daunting to many people. When most of everything we consume comes packaged and wrapped, the idea of living a zero-waste lifestyle doesn’t seem possible. What most people don’t realize is that many of the steps towards reducing one’s trash are actually incredibly easy and money-saving!
If you have ever been curious about how you can shrink your trash footprint and live life a whole lot greener, than keep reading as I dispel the common myths of living a zero-waste life!
Myth #1: I have to be 100% trash-free.
First we have to ask ourselves, “why is there trash in the first place?” The reason: poor design, and poor recovery. Currently, the way most goods are produced falls into linear production model. In general, that means products are designed and manufactured to not be recaptured and put cycled back into the production system. Basically, goods are made, consumed, and then disposed (another new addition to the landfill family). This linear production economy equals trash and avoiding it 100% of the time—unfortunately— is just not realistic. Even the best zero-wasters still produce bits of trash. Don’t beat yourself up if you make some trash. The goal is to become an empowered, informed, and conscious consumer! By voting with our dollar we put the heat on industries to design goods to be fully recoverable, which means every part of the product can be introduced back into the cycle once again.
The term “zero waste” is an industrial term. It is the opposite of the current linear production system we are all a part of. A zero-waste economy is one where design, manufacturing, consuming, and recapture are all on the same page for recovery. We call this a circular economy.
Again, the best we can do is be super-empowered consumers and avoid as much trash as possible by flexing our consumer muscles and making choices which drastically eliminate needless waste. This way we send a powerful message to companies to make shifts in how their product is designed and recovered.
The zero waste lifestyle is not about perfection; some trash will happen!
Myth #2: It’s expensive to have a zero-waste lifestyle.
The illusion of a greener lifestyle is that it’s more expensive, but in our family we have saved money! Because we simplified our wants and needs, decluttered, and have bought less packaged products and foods we have eliminated so many common purchases. For example, we no longer buy paper towels, napkins, tissues, plastic baggies, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, razor blades, and pre-packaged foods. Instead, we have durable and lasting reusable products.
We even save money by eliminating the need to buy cleaning and personal care products by making our own from simple and inexpensive ingredients. Even just hang-drying our clothes has saved us nearly $50 from our monthly energy bill! That’s $600 dollars a year! For the ladies, by choosing reusable menstrual pads and cups, you’ll save roughly $90 dollars a year! It all adds up!
When you move from a disposable lifestyle to a reusable lifestyle you clear out the unnecessary items and waste from life and make room for better health, less stress, and less need to buy things we don’t actually need. Instead, we look for meaningful experiences rather than stuff.
Myth #3: Changing my habits won’t really make a difference.
“Does it really make a difference?” is the one question I get asked the most. While it seems as though all of your efforts go to waste every time you pass an overflowing trash can, we are all in this together and we all inspire change through our individual actions. One of my favorite quotes says: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale
Andrea Sanders lives in Boulder, Colorado where she helps individuals, families, and businesses reduce their environmental impact. Learn more about Andrea and her zero waste mission at www.bezero.co. She shares daily zero-waste inspiration on Instagram (@BeZeroWasteGirl).