• Anita Vandyke

What is zero waste living?

When people hear the term 'zero waste living', the first thing people say is "I can never do that". I think people are taking the term 'zero' too literally. Here is my definition...


Let's not worry about 'zero', that is just a number. 'Zero waste' is just a term for Google search engines and Instagram hashtags to help find like-minded people. I use it to empower and build a community- it's a great term and a powerful tool. But to be honest, let's ignore the actual number zero and think about what the term actually means.


Zero waste living is just reducing your waste in the world. It's about making changes in your every day life to lower your plastic waste, reduce your carbon footprint and live a more sustainable life. To me, zero waste living is leaving a gentler footprint on the planet. That is it.

Plastic is made from petroleum and petroleum is a non-renewable resource. Plastic is a precious, limited resource that should be used for important objects that require a lightweight, durable, long-lasting material. This may include medical devices and medical uses. I am not anti-plastic, I am just proposing that we use plastic for items that really need it. We created this magical material for a reason, it has loads of benefits. As an Engineer and Medical student, I've realised how important plastic is for our modern world, but we also need to recognise it is a precious, non-renewable resource. Plastic is not needed for single-use plastic bags, disposable cutlery, throw-away items which are used for less than 15 minutes but take hundreds of years to break down. The math doesn't add up. Let's treat plastic like the precious resource it is.


Zero waste living can seem daunting - people see pictures of families fitting all their waste in one jar and think it's too hard. I see it as a powerful image designed to inspire, not scare people away from the movement. We don't have to get to 'zero' but we can all reduce our waste by 10%, 20%, 50% or even 80%, we can aim for zero but we may never actually get there. The effort is the most important aspect of the movement.


This is my definition of zero waste living, we can all create our own. The main goal is to be gentler towards yourself, others and the environment. Let's get started.



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