The Act of Zero Wasting: Why I Ended My Relationship With My Trash Can
“It’s you, not me.” I made that totally clear with my 5-gallon trash can as I pulled out the last plastic bag to take to the Dumpster. With its dirty ways, I was certain it was time for the trash can and I to go our separate ways.
Much like all my other relationships gone sour, my waste-bin breakup has been nothing but rewarding!
Zero waste, also known as trash-free or waste-free, is a budding culture driven by conscious observation of waste consumption. It is also a silent protest to all the companies that do not support sustainable practices.
The act of zero wasting is eliminating any form of garbage from one's life; this includes food, home items, clothes, shoes and hygiene products wrapped in packaging.
For me, I buy most of my groceries from the bulk-goods section of my local co-op, I will never order drinks in a single-use cup and for the most part, I only buy used or hand-me-down items. I was introduced to the zero waste lifestyle in the Summer of 2013 when a friend suggested I check out the No Trash Project, which was one woman's dedication to living trash free.
I was fascinated by the act of zero. Although it has the value of nothing, zero speaks volumes when you think about the average American throwing away 1.5 tons of material annually.
Having already dedicated my blog www.FortNegrita.com to green living, I had to rethink what it means to truly live ‘green.’
Of course I recycled, conserved energy and carried a reusable water bottle, but that wasn’t enough. I decided that the most honest way to live green was to eliminate all trash from my life. It sounds drastic, and believe me it is, but not in an impractical way. There are plenty of big box stores with chains around the U.S. that welcome zero wasters. Whole Foods, Fresh Market and even Kroger have bulk aisles for waste-free friendly shopping.
On a smaller scale, coffee shops, gas stations and restaurants allow you to fill-up your own coffee mugs rather than contributing to the 16 billion paper coffee cups thrown away each year.
When I first began my zero waste journey, I was timid in approaching counters with my reusable ware and asking “Can you put my drink[food] in here?” But I quickly saw how considerate the staff was with my zero waste requests, and when a business won’t comply, I leave! It shows that my responsibility to the Earth means far more than a chai latte from an inconsiderate company.
What I have found in the past 13 months is that zero waste is always beneficial and victorious.
Through my blog, I have created a following of zero waste enthusiasts, who are also doing the groundwork for social good. My readers are making strides in their own trash elimination by bringing designated reusables to work and declining plastic bags.
Speaking of plastic, I no longer own items made from plastic, rubber, and mixed-metal sources. Because of this, I have reduced my exposure to chemical-dense products such as hormone-corrupting bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates.
I also get VIP treatment from friends and family who happily accommodate me by making trash-free dinner settings and offering me a glass instead of plastic cups. This eliminates my need to painstakingly explain my uncommon habits. Although, those same habits are changing the minds of other human beings.
Most importantly, I am supporting a cleaner, healthier Earth. It's a win for all.
FROM THE EDITOR
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