A Solution to the Plastic Pollution - Zero Waste

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Today, I want to introduce you to the term “Zero Waste”. It describes a movement and a lifestyle started in 2008 by Bea Johnson from Zero Waste Home. Living a Zero Waste lifestyle means avoiding all plastic at any cost, following Bea’s simple 5R rule: 

Refuse - Reduce - Reuse - Recycle - Rot  (in this order only)

At first, this might sound incredibly hard, maybe even impossible. Plastic is basically anywhere we look and go. From water bottles, to produce stickers on fruit, disposable razors or coffee cups, the containers or Chinese takeout comes in, and finally also the bags we use to bring all of those things from the shops to our homes. 

Did you know that more than 50% of all the plastic we buy is only used once and then thrown away? But did you also know where the plastic goes once we decide it is of no more use to us?
Unfortunately, only a small minority of all the plastic we throw away will be melted, washed and then recycled. Since there are many different types and kinds of plastic, the ingredients vary, but one thing is true for all of them: there are only so many times they can be recycled.
So what happens to the plastic we don’t recycle?

Most of it goes to landfills. Giant amounts of plastic and other waste get dumped there and are left to rot. And this means it is going to sit there for a very long time, since plastic takes about 1.000 year to decompose. When it starts raining, however, the water absorbs toxins from the plastic creating a highly dangerous mixture called Leachate which then contaminates groundwater, soil and streams. I don’t think I need to tell you that this isn’t a very good thing, for neither animals, nor humans.

But that’s not all. Another huge amount of plastic finds its way into the ocean on a daily basis (a lot of times even put there on purpose by many countries), and after circulating there for many months, it will become part of one of the already existing giant Garbage Patches. Since it doesn’t really decompose in the sea, it breaks into thousands of tiny pieces that again will break into thousands even tinier pieces called Micro Plastics, which many fish swallow or even eat on purpose because they think it is food. So when, for example, a turtle has eaten a lot of pieces of your plastic bottle that you dumped somewhere a long time ago, it makes it feel full, but since it actually isn’t, it will starve to death. Either that, or it dies of plastic poisoning. 

Those are only a few facts that prove the shocking truth of how we keep on destroying our planet. And the thing with this problem is that we only have one. We can’t “recycle” it once it’s all used up, and we certainly can’t just dump it somewhere and take a new one.

This is why I think Zero Waste is a great thing. I, by no means, live a zero waste lifestyle. I like to think about myself more of a "doing my best at consciously avoiding plastic" kind of person, slowly easing into a more sustainable way of living. 

I will dedicate a number of posts in the future to this topic and show you many ways how to decrease your consume of plastic with little to no effort at all. 

Further reading: 

Picture by: dariadaria

You Might Also Like