Whether you see the destruction of our ocean coral, the pollution littering our seas and choking our marine life, or want to revert back to a simpler lifestyle and preserve the earth for future generations, a Zero Waste mentality is the place to start.
What is Zero Waste?
Zero Waste basically aims to reduce our waste production to a minimum.
In the throwaway society we live in today, raw resources are being pulled from the earth to create products which are dumped into landfills or the ocean. Zero Waste on the other hand aims to create a circular economy which eliminates waste from the equation and instead recycles materials back into production. This way of living ensures no litter ends up in our oceans and that there are substantial resources available for future generations. (photo – NOAA)
Why does zero waste matter?
When you throw things away they go into landfill, one big giant hole in the ground. Where they rest there, forever. They don’t decompose magically, because more stuff is dumped on top of it, not allowing any air to circulate. Instead methane and carbon dioxide gases are emitted and released into the atmosphere, contributing to our global warming crisis. Which in turn has effects on our oceans causing coral bleaching, rising sea temperatures and melting the ice caps, just to name a few. Additionally, toxic chemicals from landfills are leached into the soil, contaminating our oceans.
Isn’t recycling enough?
Put simply, recycling is not enough to stop killing our planet. Recycling requires a large amount of resources and energy to produce products that are not always themselves recyclable and therefore still produces a certain amount of waste. Recycling is a tricky business and although it may make you feel good to do so, there are many variables that mean recycling should be our last resort.
The Five “R”s
Reducing our overall waste production should be our main focus. This can be achieved by following the Five R’s. (zerowastehome)
Refuse what you do not need,
Reduce what you need,
Reuse what you have,
Recycle what you can’t reuse and
Rot (compost) the rest
Surely you can’t reduce all your waste?
It’s all about striving towards that ultimate goal of Zero Waste, which can seem impossible in the throwaway society we live in today. However every small bit of litter avoided can still have a big impact!
What about beach clean-ups?
Beach clean ups are a great way to properly dispose of litter already produced, however we want to tackle this problem at the source. By adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle we eliminate litter before it is produced and has the chance to pollute our beautiful oceans. So participating in beach cleans ups are a fantastic way to grow a community and beautify our beaches, but if you want to make more of an impact, adopt some Zero Waste lifestyle changes as well.
What are the benefits of a Zero Waste lifestyle?
In addition to helping the environment, living a Zero Waste lifestyle simplifies your life and allows you to spend more time on the things that really matter. Becoming more conscious of your consumption reduces all the unnecessary stuff in your life and you gain respect for what you have. Whilst using natural products eliminate toxins from your home and avoiding packaged foods, enables you to live a healthier life. All this whilst not having to take out the trash!
How do I begin my Zero Waste journey?
The best place to begin is in your rubbish bin. Yup, take out all the trash and have a good look at it. Discover what your biggest source of waste is and start there.
Are Take away containers overcrowding your bin? Styrofoam is one of the worst pollutants of the oceans as it breaks into tiny pieces and has the ability to float its way far and wide. When next you eat in a restaurant, buck up the courage to ask them to put your take-away food in your own reusable container, go on I dare you!
Plastic bags choking the turtles? Bring your own reusable bags with you for your groceries and start bulk shopping using your own containers. Reuse old bags to line your rubbish bin or pick up your dog’s business.
Food going to waste? Start meal planning and stick with your shopping list. Composting is also a great way to put leftovers to good use by turning it into fertiliser for your garden.
Still have questions?
By Brittany Ainsworth, Blue Ocean Contributor
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