Interested in learning how you as an individual can make changes in your life to head towards Zero Waste? Want to teach your kids how to be good stewards of our beautiful planet? We have developed this resource page to help individuals and families with some tips on how to shift your thinking towards Zero Waste, complete with useful strategies and systems that can help you achieve it.
Zero Waste Principles:
- Zero Waste means living in a way that creates little to no waste
- Reduce and reuse is the primary focus – front end waste solution
- All discarded materials should be looked at as resources; therefore, effort should be spent on how to save and recover those resources
- Source separation is important – discarded material that is kept separate and clean is a more valuable resource.
- Recycle and compost what you cannot reduce and reuse
- Make choices about what you purchase based on the end of life of the product.
A Zero Waste Hierarchy is a tool that helps visualize where the greatest effort should be placed and the best actions to take when managing resources and working towards Zero Waste. The action at the top of the hierarchy, rethink/redesign deserve the largest amount of investment; while the smallest/bottom triangle at the bottom, is what cannot be addressed through the above actions in the hierarchy and will be minimal.
Circular Economy, according to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural system. In order to change from a linear economy (where products and packaging are bought, used, and disposed of over and over), there needs to be changes upstream during design and manufacturing so products and packaging are reusable, durable, repairable and at their end of life they are truly recyclable. Our Zero Waste efforts support a Circular Economy.
How to start your Zero Waste Journey:
- Conduct a waste audit – Save your garbage for a week, then sort and study what you are throwing away – this can be an eye opening exercise that helps you know where to focus your efforts.
- Reduce – the #1 way to be Zero Waste:
- Reduce what you bring in your house – before every purchase ask yourself if you really need it and how long you will want it to be a part of your life.
- Buy used instead of new (that eliminates the packaging and the pollution of making and shipping a new item, plus the waste of that used item is eliminated which is sometimes a less obvious way of reducing)
- Focus on buying less but when you do buy something, think about the packaging – buy unpackaged food/items or items with the least amount of packaging
- Say “no thank you” to free, unnecessary items – you don’t have to take that free giveaway.
- Reuse – Bring reusable items with you to avoid single use, especially plastic:
- Reusable shopping bags for all shopping trips not just groceries.
- Reusable water bottle
- Reusable coffee mug and/or pint cup – just keep one handy in your car or bag
- Reusable take-out container – just keep one handy in your car or bag
- Reusable silverware and cloth napkins – just keep a set rolled up in your bag/car
- Purchase your supplies with reuse in mind – buy glass jars instead of plastic so you can reuse them when the contents are gone.