The world generates at least 3.5 million tons of plastic and other solid waste every day. That is about 4.4 pounds of trash per person per day. 79 percent of this waste accumulates in landfills or litters the natural environment. A solution to this growing problem is by eliminating single-use plastics in addition to reuse and upcycle more materials before they are classified as waste. On a micro-level, individuals can consciously lead a zero-waste or reduced-waste lifestyle to flatten the waste curve. Our very own founder and CEO, Rachel Kois, underwent a year-long journey to reduce her waste. For an entire year, she kept everything that could not be recycled or composted. Check out her blog post on her experience here.
What is it?
Zero-waste lifestyles strive to conserve all resources by consuming products, packaging, and materials in a way that does not threaten the environment or human health. The goal is to rely on products that will last rather using single-use products as a way to become more sustainable. Reduced-waste lifestyles are similar to zero-waste in that they want to reduce the amount of waste they are responsible for, but the goal may not be to completely eliminate their waste production. Reusable water bottles are a prime example of a product that supports both zero-waste and reduced-waste lifestyles.
We are lucky enough to have many impact partners who support these lifestyles. For example, Chic Made Consciously makes accessories out of old tires. POWCH! Utilizes offcut leather and artificial leather pieces from upholsterers and saddleries to create their products. World For Good makes reusable totes out of textile waste. Anato does not use any single-use plastic in their products. Dot Cup provides a solution for menstruating humans who want to reduce their waste while helping women in need. The toilet paper company, Who Gives A Crap, even carries a 100 percent recycled toilet paper.
Why does it matter?
Our capitalistic economy prioritizes the entities that are able to produce the most profit, and everyone is able to vote with their wallet to some extent. When more consumers choose to vote for products that support zero-waste and reduced-waste lifestyles, other companies are incentivized to rethink how their products are made, packaged, and shipped. Reusable items are often sold at a greater price than single-use products, but they last far longer when taken care of properly. In fact, reusable products are cheaper than single-use products in the long run. The upfront cost can be daunting when making the switch to zero-waste or reduced-waste products, but they are so much more sustainable for our wallets and the environment in the long-run. The key is to only buy what you need and to take care of the items you purchase to extend the life of the product.
The “Simple Switch” to reusable items means there will be that much less waste going into landfills or polluting our natural environment as our global population continues to grow.