Zero Waste, Zero What? (Guest Blog)

what is zero waste, how to go zero waste

“Why don’t you use bees wraps to keep your leftovers? Plastic is so bad!” asked a friend of mine. Yes, good question! This is such a great idea: plastic-free, reusable, easy (and the fabrics are all lovely aren’t they?). I looked at my old plastic container, a bit shamefully to be honest. Did I miss something? I’ve been paying so much attention to avoiding plastic and waste, and to using sustainable materials. What was I thinking?

This happened a couple of months ago. I felt so bad back then, but now I realise how much it helped me. This moment started a deep reflection about the movement I’ve been following with enthusiasm now for a couple of years, about my lifestyle goal: the zero-waste way of life. Have you heard about it?  

I learned about it in 2013 from a book written by Béa Johnson, Zero Waste Home. Six years later this Amazon Best Seller which is now translated into 26 languages is considered to be the bible of all “Zero Wasters.” Béa Johnson is now traveling the world sharing her tips on how her family reached her goal of one jar of trash per year. Yes, you read it well: 2 adults, 2 kids, 1 annual jar of trash since 2008. This incredible performance (for it is a performance in our get-it-now and all-consumption world!) requires a total respect of the mantra: Refuse - Reduce - Reuse - Recycle. It can be quite tough and scary to start as it requires us to modify our perceptions and habits. But on the other hand it’s a step by step process, and it’s very satisfying when you begin finding success. Having done it for years now I feel so much healthier, both in my mind and my body, and I’m still constantly learning. It’s worth it.

And here, a first tip for you that I learned from my dear friend that asked about the trendy bee wraps: learn to refuse.

Trends are such a thing. It feels so good to follow the tasteful bloggers and to be a part of what’s in! And the zero-waste movement found its way in. You’ll now find amazing bamboo hair brushes, cutlery, INOX kitchen utensils, wonderful bees wraps! And yes, those products are great. But you might feel frustrated because everything seems so much better than your current housewares, plastic hair brushes, plastic containers, or plastic toothbrush.

But wait. What’s the first word of our mantra again? Refuse. So let’s do it. Look at your old plastic containers that you’ve been using for years, and without any shame proudly keep using them every single day. No thanks, fancy bees wraps. It’s the key, the core message of the zero waste movement: start with what you’ve got already at home. And to be honest, it’s so much easier!

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post of Béa Johnson on social media. She wrote “Reducing comes before Reusing! (...) Waste free living is about living simply first and foremost. And one way to get to simple living is to stop unnecessary things from coming into your home.” Béa, we’re connected. Thank you, you read my mind.  

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Author Bio, Lydia Martel, What is Zero Waste

Visit Lydia on Instagram or at her online store.