What the Heck is Zero Waste?
When I was a kid, I had this book on The Future. You know the kind: pictures of flying cars and kitchens that re-stocked themselves. I would read it for hours, dreaming of self cleaning houses and robot friends.
It also had a whole chapter on Waste. According to my Book of the Future, we would have countless, unimaginable new products using the stuff we put in our recycling bins!
Dumps would be out of business!
Roads are made from milk cartons!
The circle of life has been actualized!!!
Wellll, things haven't exactly turned out as my 10 year old self dreamed.
So how bad IS the recycling system?!
I only ask cuz I knew it was "bad" but I had no idea just hooooow ineffective "recycling" actually is.
Are you ready to hear this?
In Canada, 9% of our recycling turns into a new product a la my Book of the Future. 9%. 9%!!
So, if you do the math...subtract the 9, carry the one...ummm, 91% goes to landfill!?! That is appalling.
I already have 4 separate waste bins and you're telling me only 9% of my effort pays off!?!
We can get bogged down thinking about the waste of time "recycling" has been.
We can get dramatic about the travesty of it all.
We could give up...and punt the problem to our kids!
This is NOT the Time to Give Up.
This is when the people who can, do.
An effective way to ACTUALLY reduce garbage is to stop it from coming into the house in the first place.
And This is where the Zero Waste Movement Comes In.
I will be the first to admit that Zero Waste is not a user friendly concept...at our core (like, in the depths of our bowels kind of thing) we are wired to produce waste. Anyone who has dealt with infants can testify that waste is the first thing we master.
Getting to Zero is not an option.
So What is The Main Concept of Zero Waste?
Garbage...including recycling!!!... needs to be STOPPED at the very beginning of the cycle....not at the end.
Stop the garbage before it starts. Seems so simple, huh?!
If recycling is broken: don't bring more of it into your home!
If you hate negotiating with plastic symbols: refuse to deal with plastic!
Do you Have Any Containers Around Your House?
This is a trick question.
OF COURSE YOU DO!! THEY ARE FREAKING EVERYWHERE!!!
Now, think of all the time and money that goes into designing those containers.
Maybe it has a pump in it. Perhaps it squeezes the ketchup out just perfectly. Has it got one of those low flow jobbies that pours your olive oil smooth and steady?
Well, here's a news flash: You can re-use all those lovely containers and skip the stupid recycling bin altogether!
OK, clam down, I'll tell you!
It's frighteningly easy.
You're gonna grab 5 items you regularly use, you're gonna wait till that container is empty and then...
...you're gonna wash it and fill it up again at your local re-fillery.
Voila: Zero Waste.
These are the 5 we started with:
We haven't thrown out a box or container in these categories since February. And we expand the list all the time...I talk more about this in the episode.
Welcome to the Future: Unboxed Market.
Unboxed Market is Toronto's First Zero Waste Grocery Store. In 2019, Michelle Genttner and Luis Martins closed their restaurant, bought a grocery store...then turned it Zero Waste.
Listen to their business journey here.
What's in it for you?
I hear you...you need to see yourself in the story. Well, here's the You reward:
It's liberating. It just is!
You feel lighter. It's like a diet but for your waste.
Imagine never struggling with the hieroglyphs that are "recycling symbols" again.
Screw you Plastics #3,4,6,7!
Well, maybe not never...there's still a lot of junk built into purchases. But it's LESS. And that's the goal: everyone taking small steps.
More on Zero Waste
Inspired?! Looking for more Zero Waste ideas?
And if you're in the mood to pepper your social feeds with some more radical follows...people who are risking their careers and livelihoods to bring awareness to small peanuts like me, follow Extinction Rebellion or Dr. Charlie Gardner .
See you in 2 weeks.