What is Zero Waste?

So what exactly is zero waste? You’ve probably seen videos of people proudly displaying a jar that holds one year’s worth of trash, or maybe you’ve heard about people going on no-buys where they refuse to buy things for a week, month, or even a year. Zero waste can be these things, but it’s so much more.

The zero waste movement asks us to look at the things we can consume and our behaviors with the goal to limit the waste we produce. For some folks, this results in a strict policy of refusing all disposable items, others are more flexible but try to incorporate more sustainable products and actions into their daily life.

The main principle of zero waste boils down to the 5 R’s outlined by Bea Johnson

  1. Refuse what you don’t need
  2. Reduce consuming what you can’t give up
  3. Reuse what you can (and prioritize goods that can be reused)
  4. Recycle, looking for goods made of recyclable contents rather than materials that have to go into the trash
  5. Rot — compost anything that can be returned to the earth.

You don’t have to be perfect to be zero waste, and a lot of what you need to live a more zero waste life is probably already around you.