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Going zero waste is a fantastic way to live in harmony with our planet.
Trying to reduce your waste offers plenty of amazing environmental benefits. However, these benefits are not always that visible and apparent.
Now, you may wonder – how zero waste helps the environment? After research, I found that there are multiple answers to this.
Here is how zero waste helps the environment –
Zero waste saves energy, reduces methane and CO2 emissions, protects our carbon sinks, and reduces the overall impact on our climate. Additionally, zero waste conserves non-renewable resources, and it minimizes plastic pollution in our oceans and landfills.
Let’s take a closer look at the ways zero waste helps the environment. We will observe how:
- Zero waste reduces energy-related emissions
- Zero waste reduces methane emissions
- Zero waste protects our carbon sinks
- Zero waste conserves resources and minimizes pollution
- Zero waste reduces plastic pollution in our oceans
- Zero waste causes the ripple effect
- Zero waste decreases the use of fossil fuels and polluting toxins
- What can you do to help the environment?
Zero waste reduces energy-related emissions
Burning more and more fossil fuels to create energy warms up our planet, and it pollutes our air and water.
When we use less fossil fuel-generated energy, we create less pollution. The standard practices of zero waste, which are refusing, reusing, reducing, and recycling, are an effective way to save energy and reduce air and water pollution.
Additionally, recycling 100% recyclable materials, such as paper, aluminum, and glass, saves energy and reduces wastewater, which directly reduces carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
Zero waste reduces methane emissions
Landfills are an influential contributor to climate change. When an organic matter ends up in a landfill, the break down of the materials releases methane.
Methane is known to be a potent greenhouse gas; it traps around 84 times more heat in the atmosphere heat in the than carbon dioxide.
Zero waste aims to reduce and compost all organic matter (food waste). Keeping food waste out of the landfill lowers methane emissions, and it has positive climate benefits.
Zero waste protects our carbon sinks
Trees and plants are absorbing more carbon than they release, so they lower the concentration of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Sadly, different industries cause deforestation and forest degradation, which contributes about one-fifth of total greenhouse gas emissions.
The zero-waste lifestyle has practices that protect our carbon sinks. Some of them are by:
- buying recycled goods and products
- reducing the use of paper materials
- avoiding palm oil
- eating a more plant-based diet
- supporting sustainable and ethical companies
These practices help to conserve the forests, which plays an essential role in pulling carbon out of the atmosphere.
Zero waste conserves resources and minimizes pollution
We live like there is an unlimited number of natural resources for our survival. But that’s not the reality.
Currently, we extract raw materials from natural resources. We get the vast majority of plastics from non-renewable fossil fuels. Then, we process the materials and manufacture them. These steps, and the ones in between, require large amounts of energy and resources, that cause pollution.
The worst part is that in the end, most of these items end up in the landfill. Such consumption patterns are damaging the environment and aren’t sustainable.
The goal of zero waste is to conserve natural resources.
Reducing and reusing means that the demand for new things will be lower, and they will create fewer new items.
Overall, zero waste reduces pollution from extraction, manufacturing, and disposal. Plus, the focus is on materials that are 100% recyclable and are meant to last.
Zero waste reduces plastic pollution in our oceans
Plastics are made from non-renewable resources extracted from the Earth, such as crude oil. A large quantity of this plastic (~40%) is single-use packaging.
Marine wildlife is very vulnerable since somewhere between 10–20 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year.
Once plastic reaches the ocean, it does not go away – it just breaks down into small pieces. These microplastics are then eaten by sea life, moreover carried up the food chain, bringing synthetic and toxic pollutants.
Zero waste prevents the wasteful and polluting practices that are damaging our oceans and marine wildlife.
The goal is to focus on sustainable, long-lasting, recycled, and plastic-free materials, that are having a lower impact on the pollution of our oceans and environment.
Zero waste causes the ripple effect
The movement is not to be perfect and to produce 0 trash.
It is much more about trying to raise awareness to make it more widespread.
Going zero waste doesn’t mean a single person will save the world.
It does mean that it can inform others, spread the knowledge, and slow down the harmful way we treat our environment.
Even though doing sustainable changes by yourself doesn’t look like a huge difference, on a global scale, it is a huge difference in your personal circle and life.
You will live a happier, healthier life, with less spending on things that you don’t need, and being more mindful about conserving our environment.
By living more sustainably, there are high chances that you will affect some of your closest friends or family. By influencing your closest ones to make small changes, the zero waste movement will grow more, and it will add up!
Zero waste decreases the use of fossil fuels and polluting toxins
It is estimated that –
42% of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the production and use of goods, including food, products, and packaging.
Refusing, reducing, reusing, rotting (composting), and recycling are the zero-waste basis, known as the 5R’s.
This philosophy can conserve the use of fossil fuels, which will dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
Moreover, landfills and incinerators spread toxic chemicals into our air and water, which also contaminates the groundwater.
These chemicals are dangerous, both for humans and the planet — they are harmful and persistent; that means they don’t break down in the environment.
By lowering the amount of trash, we can prevent negative consequences, such as spreading of toxins.
What can you do to help the environment?
Now, we know how zero waste helps the environment. But what are the exact things you can do to help? There are a few simple actions:
- Stop using the most polluting items – Certain items pollute more than others. Discover the 15 worst polluters of our environment, and find an eco-friendly alternative to each item.
- Use reusables – By avoiding single-use plastics, you lower down the litter that it goes to the landfill. Make new environmentally-friendly habits, that will prevent you from using single-use plastics. Always have reusable containers (for coffee, or food), a stainless steel water bottle, a reusable bag, etc.
- Avoid driving a car when unnecessary – Try to use public transport, walk more and ride your bike!
- Compost – Start composting your food scraps, or find a service nearby, that collects food scraps. In that way, your food waste won’t end up in the landfill, causing a lot of environmental damage.
- Shop in bulk & from a farmers market – Shopping in bulk in your reusable containers, and from the local farmers market is another simple way to reduce your waste, and to support local businesses.
- Vote with your dollar – Purchase things that are plastic-free and created using sustainable materials and methods.
- Reuse & DIY – Be more creative and find ways to reuse stuff, instead of throwing things away, or buying new items.
- Second hand – Whenever you need something, try to first look at second-hand stores or flea markets. You will be surprised how many cool things you can find, for a much cheaper price!
- Eat local & plant-based food – Plant-based foods have the lowest impact on our planet. It’s a fact! Additionally, locally grown food has a smaller effect, too, since the food didn’t travel from the other side of the world.
Overall, these are just a FEW things you can do. I have a whole article that will give you 29 ideas on how to help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint:
Caring about our environment and living zero waste are two things that can help you to live in harmony. This lifestyle is an action step that will reflect on what you believe in.
Zero waste is simply one of the fastest, most accessible climate action strategies that individuals can implement to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions immediately.
The movement results in fewer toxins in our air, water, soil, and environment so that we can live more sustainable lives.