A philosophy that encourages the redesign of the life cycle of resources, with the purpose of reusing and upcycling products, and ultimately creating no rubbish.
The approach encompasses more than simply eliminating waste through recycling, instead aiming to restructure production and distribution systems to prevent the creation of waste to begin with. Currently this type of complete circular waste management does not exist, however many people and communities are working towards this goal.
The first and biggest change I made regarding Zero Waste, was deciding to no longer buy new clothes. For nearly three years I have only bought second-hand items, which I found in thrift and vintage stores, markets and online groups. My motivation for this choice revolved around facts like:
“If one million women bought their next item of clothing secondhand instead of new, we would save six million kilograms of carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere” (source).
One cotton T-shirt takes 2,700 liters of water to produce- enough drinking water for one person for 2.5 years” (National Geographic).
Australians send 85% of textiles (~23 kilos per person per year) to landfill (source), and only 15% of donated clothing is actually sold again in opp shops, with the rest used as rags, sent to landfill or sent to developing nations. See this article for more details.
Want to learn more?
These are my favourite books, websites, Instagram accounts and stores related to Zero Waste.
- Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home book. As one of the early advocates of Zero Waste this book is part biography / part recipes and tips- you can watch a snapshot here
- Anita Vandyke’s Rocket_Science Instagram account was where I first heard about the concept of Zero Waste
- Lauren Singer’s Trash is for Tossers site is full of great ideas and recipes
- Bianca’s Zero Waste Path and Zero Waste Path Shop Instagram accounts
- Lindsay’s Treading My Own Path Instagram account
- Biome Stores for great recipes, ideas and zero waste supplies in Australia and online
- The Wise House for supplies in Europe and the UK