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Have you ever wondered what the benefits of zero waste are, and what’s all the fuss about it?
The truth is that going zero waste has unique economic, environmental, and personal advantages. In this article, we will observe 16 of them.
Let’s take a quick look at why is zero waste important, and then jump to the amazing benefits of zero waste!
Importance of zero waste:
Zero waste is important because the goal is to redefine the current production and consumption cycle, in which resources are taken from the Earth and, sooner or later, dumped as trash in landfills, incinerators, or oceans.
It is a radical act to boycott using single-use plastics, prevent waste, save resources, and ultimately, avoid unsustainable businesses, products & practices.
Instead of throwing stuff away, the goal is for all resources to be absorbed fully back into the system. As consumers, we have the power to make a change by:
- Voting with our dollar and purchasing sustainable alternatives
- Spreading awareness about the importance of reducing waste
- Practice responsible disposal by upcycling, recycling, and composting
Economic benefits of zero waste
1. Saves money
One of the economic benefits of zero waste is that shopping becomes less frequent and automatic.
It encourages a more deliberate approach to consumption, focusing on needs rather than wants. This means that the zero waste lifestyle can automatically cut off unnecessary expenses.
You will save money by purchasing fewer disposable items, opting for reusable alternatives, ditching many unnecessary ones, DIYing things, etc.
For specific tips & ways to save money with zero waste, check my post – How To Save $5,337 A Year By Going Zero Waste.
2. Thoughtful consumption
Zero waste entails a shift in mindset and prioritizes conscious choices over impulsive purchases.
You will focus on buying long-lasting, high-quality, and carefully selected items, like clothes, furniture, and electronics. A good habit is to ask yourself whenever you want to buy something new:
- Do I truly need that? Will I use it or wear it regularly?
- Do I have something similar already?
- Is it going to last? Can I make it by myself?
- Can I find it second-hand?
When I ask myself those questions, I often conclude that I could either DIY it, I already have a similar thing, or I could purchase it second-hand. Shopping will then turn into a more conscious activity.
Thoughtful consumption extends beyond material possessions, influencing how you use your time and energy, but will talk more about that later on.
3. No more food waste
Another principle of zero waste is to minimize food waste. You can do it by storing food properly & keeping produce fresh, planning, purchasing wisely, getting creative with leftovers, repurposing scraps, and composting your organic waste.
This is beneficial not only for your pocket but also for the environment since decomposing organic matter in landfills releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
When you prevent organic waste from reaching landfills, you help to reduce these emissions.
4. Zero waste community initiatives
Zero waste community initiatives can incorporate useful ideas. This can be composting in the neighborhood garden, or tool and skill sharing to reuse and repair, which again reduces waste and costs.
Additionally, community-based zero waste strategies could redistribute useful goods to people in need, such as clothing and food to shelters, used furniture for refugees, etc.
Moreover, the economic potential of recovering and reselling valuable materials represents new business opportunities that can help to grow a local, circular economy.
5. Local economic development
While zero waste practices are often focused on things like trash reduction, there is also the encouragement of supporting local markets and businesses.
This means buying goods and services from nearby producers, artisans, and entrepreneurs.
This redirection of spending from large corporations to local businesses injects money directly into the local economy.
6. Zero waste creates more jobs
On average, zero waste strategies create the most jobs of any waste management, through reducing, reusing, and recycling.
More jobs are also created in rental, repairing, and sharing businesses (e.g., car-sharing, apartment-sharing, tool rental).
Plus, local funds are spent on local products and services, instead of going outside the community to buy imported products. That not only saves money but also reduces CO2 emissions by eliminating transport.
Personal benefits of going zero waste:
7. Healthier food habits
Going zero waste means reducing and ultimately eliminating packaged processed snacks and foods. The ingredients you find at the bulk store and farmer’s market will give you everything you need to create balanced, healthy meals and snacks.
As a result, you will eat more unpackaged, fresh produce, and healthy bulk food items (like grains, beans, nuts, etc.), and consume fewer additives and preservatives. A side benefit that you can experience is also getting in shape because of this.
Going zero waste means you might get inspired to come up with creative, homemade (healthier) alternatives to your favorite packed snacks, like DIY granola bars, homemade protein bars, homemade Twix bars, cookies, etc.
8. Reduced exposure to toxic chemicals
Choosing a zero waste lifestyle means reducing the need and use of toxic chemicals in your home.
It lowers the demand which also leads to less release of these chemicals into the environment during production, use, and disposal, helping to protect ecosystems and waterways.
Turning to more natural and homemade cleaning solutions is often more cost-effective than purchasing commercial products, too.
Additionally, many conventional cleaning products come in single-use plastic bottles, so by using natural alternatives or making your own, you reduce plastic waste.
9. Creating more fulfilling habits
The modern world we live in is driven by materialism and purchasing more and more stuff. In general, it encourages a lot of unsustainable habits.
I remember when I was younger, one of my ‘hobbies’ was going out with my best friend to try and buy clothes. Oftentimes, the items we were getting were worn a few times and left out.
Instead of spending hours of your free time shopping, you can find some better habits you want to incorporate into your days, like relaxing with a good book, cooking, going on a hike or a walk, swimming, doing yoga, going for a run, etc.
10. Reduced clutter
As I got into zero waste, I also got interested in minimalism, so those two lifestyles have lots of things in common, and many people embark on both.
Adopting a zero waste lifestyle often means simplifying your possessions and reducing excess packaging.
This leads to a cleaner, more organized living space, where everything serves a purpose. With less clutter, cleaning and organizing become less time-consuming.
11. New connections
Participating in zero waste initiatives, attending workshops, or being part of local environmental groups provides opportunities to engage with like-minded people.
Engaging with others who are also pursuing a zero waste lifestyle can be a rich source of learning.
People share experiences, knowledge about sustainable practices, and insights about local resources. This is a great way to inspire greater community involvement, partnerships, innovation, and sharing.
Environmental benefits of zero waste:
12. Reduced landfill waste
Landfills can have quite detrimental effects on the environment. They can release harmful greenhouse gases like methane, which is over 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat.
Landfills also contaminate soil and groundwater with toxins from decomposing waste, posing risks to local ecosystems.
By adopting a zero waste lifestyle, individuals and communities can minimize the amount of waste sent to landfills by reducing, reusing, and recycling materials.
13. Reduces pollution
Less waste means less trash in landfills, but this also results in a reduced need for logging in the forests, mining, and drilling for oil, all of which require loads of energy.
Less waste will support the proper waste management practices and help prevent toxins & hazardous chemicals from leaching into the air, soil, and water systems.
This safeguards the quality of the air we breathe, groundwater, rivers, and other ecosystems, benefiting both human health and the environment.
14. Conservation of natural resources
Recycling and reusing materials mean that there’s less demand for extracting and processing new resources.
For example, when paper is recycled, it reduces the need to cut down more trees, preserving forest habitats and biodiversity.
Similarly, reusing metals, plastics, and other materials decreases the need for mining and drilling operations, which can have significant environmental impacts on land and water ecosystems.
15. Reduces GHGs
Another zero waste benefit is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and humans’ harmful influence on global climate patterns.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 42% of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by producing goods, such as processed food and plastic packaging materials.
Reducing, reusing, and recycling can conserve that energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
16. Encourages positive systemic change
The zero waste movement promotes a circular economy. It is all about doing your part in conserving nature and its precious resources.
It encourages a shift from our linear consumption habits into more circular, sustainable ones for the sake of Earth’s preservation.
You have the power to reject unsustainable products, businesses, and practices. By doing it, we can inspire and encourage different positive systemic changes.
For example, single-use plastics are starting to be outlawed and banned in Europe and some U.S. states. These disposable items include plastic shopping bags, styrofoam cups, take-out containers, plastic straws, and utensils.
Are there any zero waste disadvantages?
I cannot skip mentioning that while the zero waste lifestyle is pretty great, not everything is black and white, and it does come with some cons. If you are curious, you can learn more about the zero waste disadvantages & tips on how to prevent experiencing them.
Zero waste is a fantastic movement with many benefits, that promote living in harmony with our planet. It inspires and shows that everyone has an important role to play in protecting our environment.
Adopting this lifestyle requires greater awareness, and it will take some effort. Yet, transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle offers many personal, communal, and environmental benefits, as you already saw!
It is important to remember that everyone has special circumstances; so focus on what works best for you. The point isn’t to be perfect; start small and take gradual steps toward low-waste waste living.
To get started, you can follow my guide with 10 Best Ways To Adopt a Zero Waste Lifestyle In 2024.