Produce less waste

Featured image of plastic on a beach by Jasmin Sessler

Eliminating or reducing your waste (rubbish/garbage) is cheaper, helps conserve resources and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s not a new concept*. Even if you’re eliminating waste just a little bit, if enough of us do it, we’re actually starting to make a huge difference.

Examples of living with zero waste

While venturing down a random, internet browsing rabbit hole a few years ago, I’ve found and been inspired by people like Oberon and Lauren Carter from Spiral Garden in Hobart, Australia. 

The Spiral Garden family practically produce no waste at all, they make it look so easy and are living examples of how to tread lightly on this earth. I highly recommend watching this short piece by Happen Films on their family and inspirational way of life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5ijPk5_8pM 

The Spiral Garden Waste Free Family

While the Spiral Garden folks are amazing examples of how living almost completely ZERO waste is possible, it seems like such a difficult and radical change for most people.

Produce less waste in the mean time

Producing less waste – especially plastic waste – is something I’ve been actively working on for a few years now with small steps and changes to the things I buy and where I shop.

But with each emergency cucumber I buy for my daughter from the local shop that comes covered in plastic, I start to despair** that I’ll never quite make it to a utopian zero waste state. 

But don’t give up! Your small efforts are still mega helpful and impactful!

Producing less waste also makes a huge difference

If like me, the occasional single-use plastic guilt plagues you, you’ll be relieved to know the following: it’s still incredibly impactful and important to be even a little bit zero waste. Don’t give up.

An example shared in a YouTube video by ‘Exploring Alternatives’ recently illustrates this point brilliantly.

Imagine an average person creates 1000 pounds of waste per year. If 5000 dedicated zero wasters produce a maximum of 90% waste, in total they’d avoid sending 4.5 million pounds of waste per year to landfill.

But if 1 million people make small changes so they eliminate 10% of their waste, in total they’d be diverting 100 million pounds of waste per year from landfill. So that’s 95 million pounds more than being perfect zero waste super-humans.

The bigger impact will happen when millions of us make small, consistent changes. Let’s forget about trying to be perfect and look at waste reduction ideas.”

Exploring Alternatives

Featured image of plastic on a beach by Jasmin Sessler

*Tangental footnotes

  1. Eliminating waste is not a new concept:
    • ‘Produce no waste’ is the 6th Holmgren Permaculture Principle.
    • If you’ve ever come across a management consultant, you’ll know they’re often looking to identify and eliminate different types of ‘waste’ in an organisation, manufacturing plant or whatever it is they’ve been brought in to analyse. That’s because finding and reducing different types of waste will typically increase productivity and ultimately make companies more profit.
    • The old adage ‘waste not want not’ also comes to mind.
  2. Don’t fall into the ‘it’s all my fault’ despair trap.
    • Let’s not forget there are some big, systemic and policy-level changes that could be made to fix this.
    • Let’s stop proliferating the lie that creating waste is all the consumer’s fault. We could be banning single-use plastic nationally, or mandating to cover all food products in compostable packaging by X timeframe.

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