When I tell my friends that I live a zero waste lifestyle, a lot of them are perplexed. Zero? How is that possible? Truth be told, it’s not. The “zero” in zero waste is a mindset. We strive to produce no trash. But as of now, zero wasters simply produce minimal to no trash at home.
Even if you shop completely package-free, there is still waste during the production of an item. For example: let’s say I shop for oats in the bulk bins at my local grocery store. The grocery store gets the oats packaged somehow from the bulk distributor. For sanitary reasons, that packaging will probably be single-use to transport the oats from the distributor to the grocer. Let’s say everyone is being very environmentally conscious and the grocery store recycles the packaging that stored the oats. When the bulk packaging goes to the recycling plant, undoubtedly there will be energy spent and a little waste produced.
However, it is still a much more sustainable lifestyle. If a bulk bin of oats takes 50 customers to use up, that’s 50 customers creating one packaging rather than those 50 customers buying individually-packaged oats.
The average American produces 4.3 pounds of trash per day. That’s 1,569 pounds of trash per year! You might not think one person’s action can make a difference. With the American population well over 300 million, that’s almost 5 billion pounds of trash every year. That’s insane to me. Obviously, that trash won’t just disappear overnight. But I think we can all make strides in trying to make our linear consumer stream into a cyclical one.