My biggest problem with the zero-waste movement is the title. There is just no way to be completely zero-waste. A lot of people in the zero-waste community have been talking about this lately.
The term zero-waste started as an industrial term for large companies to create a product that would also create no waste. All the materials used to make the product would be recycled or even used as a separate product. Many companies run on a ‘cradle-to-grave’ linear model. The resources used to create their product end up in a ‘grave’ or landfill. The zero-waste or ‘cradle-to-cradle’ term is a closed loop. The idea is that all the products or ‘waste’ are able to be reused and recycled. This not only allows companies to make more money in the long run, but it’s also a faster process. The production process doesn’t have extra steps in order to clean or dispose of anything. Ultimately, the company is creating something but their end goal doesn’t create ‘waste’, hence the term ‘zero-waste’.
However, as I mention previously, humans are not capable of being ‘zero-waste’. We create byproducts everyday. Some more than others. Many people within the zero-waste community have been changing their attitude to become low-waste. It creates less stress for people to strive for perfection. It also is more realistic. Zero-waste puts a lot more pressure on someone who is really just trying their best. No one is 100% perfect. All we are trying to do is make the future a little bit better for those who will be here after us. We are making choices everyday that will affect those who come after us. The very first pieces of plastic are still on our planet today. That can seem very disheartening and sometimes it feels like there’s no point in even trying. You have to find a balance. Make changes that you can reasonably do without diminishing your happiness. Strive for low-waste and just do your best.