Zero-Waste: What’s the Hype?

With all the recent reports on climate change, viral videos of sea animals trapped in plastic pollution, and a recognized awareness of the changes we need to make to keep our planet happy and healthy, the term “zero-waste” has become more prevalent. Plastic pollution reaches far beyond the plastic straw issue; plastic pollution is represented by all plastic, single-use and reusable, that makes its way from its place of consumption to an obtrusive place in nature. It’s the plastic water bottles, the food containers, the microplastic contamination, as well as non-plastic items, that clog our waterways and pollute our highways.

Zero-waste isn’t about stopping consumption, or completely cutting your waste production- that’s impractical, and and we would make no progress if we told everyone, “okay, no waste for you this month!”. Living a zero-waste, or waste-aware, lifestyle is about making a conscious effort to use reusable shopping bags, to buy fruit that’s not wrapped in plastic, to use glass containers to store food, to use your own to-go cup for your daily coffee. It’s about being aware of the products you use and consume, and to do your best at reducing the byproducts of consumption.

I have a few questions myself about the issue- is it acceptable to bring your own utensils when eating out, in order to avoid the plastic utensils given by the restaurant? What about paper napkins, could you bring a cloth napkin instead? These actions may cause an uncomfortable situation in a restaurant, but they could also spark discussion for the operation of the restaurant, maybe they should be offering reusable utensils or napkins. There’s also the big C word: Convenience. Isn’t it easier to buy an already peeled pomegranate than having to dissect the fruit to harvest the seeds yourself? The scope and reality of waste-aware living is still a bit ambiguous, but it’s the thought that turns into action that will lead to a change of habit.

Yes, we can clean up our oceans, our streams, our fields, but we need to stop waste at its source. By consciously choosing items that don’t have packaging, or reusing the glass jar from last night’s pasta sauce to store leftovers, by thinking before acting, progress can be made. I implore you to simply Googlezero-waste“, and learn a bit more about some habits that can be changed for the better, and consider how you can make a difference.

PS- Food waste. Did you know that about 1/5 of food is left in the field during harvest because it is misshapen, or not labeled as “good enough” to eat? Food waste is an immense and expansive issue, and will be featured in it’s own blog post to come!

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