Zero Waste: is it impossible?

Archeologists and anthropologists define past human eras by the material they use most; a useful way of categorising – for humans, the way we use and make tools separate us from other animals and greatly shape our lives. The bronze age, the iron age, the stone age: each era getting slowly more sophisticated and safer. The most recent era? The age of plastic.

Perhaps it is the most dangerous era yet. Plastic, in modern life, is used in everything; from computers to toothbrushes, electrical wiring to coffee cups – it’s seemingly impossible to avoid. Every single piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists – and with many plastics being disposable and single use, 3.7 million tonnes of plastic were wasted in the UK in 2014 alone.

Islands of plastic, 5 miles wide are seen to be accumulating in the Caribbean islands – which is disastrous for marine wildlife and ocean toxicity. Not only that, but every single piece of plastic uses up fossil fuel reserves, and contributes to CO2 build up in our atmosphere.

Plastic however, is everywhere.

Look around you now: how many things around you don’t contain plastic? One? Two?

None?

In response to the multiple problems plastic brings, a movement has started gaining popularity – zero waste.

But what exactly is it? Can everyone do it? Or is it just for hippies who don’t mind smelling funny and making everything out of hemp? Is it just another ridiculous millennial trend?

I would argue that it is not – zero-waste is a movement where the aim is for an individual to send nothing they produce to landfill. As the saying goes – reduce, reuse, recycle. But can everyone do this? How easy is it?

Over the coming months, I’m going to try to answer that question. Perhaps zero-waste may be impossible for the average, middle to low income individual; maybe it is only possible for those with the time, and more importantly, the funds – after all, the products seem to all be on the pricey end.

So I’m going to investigate what small changes I can make to reduce the waste I produce. I’m not going to do anything drastic: I’m not going to throw out everything plastic that I own straight away. But when I am finished with a plastic disposable, I’m going to make an effort to find a sustainable alternative. I’m going to try to find cheap and easy ways to reduce my waste – and I’m going to be writing reviews on plastic-free alternatives and sustainable brands as I go.

Stay tuned, and wish me luck –

P

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