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Does Zero Waste Make a Difference?

does zero waste make a difference

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When talking about the zero waste movement, many questions arise, and it’s almost impossible not to wonder –

Does zero waste make a difference? To shortly answer this question:

Yes – zero waste can make a difference. 

It is a radical action to avoid ordinary, everyday things like plastic packaging and single-use plastics. The zero waste movement breaks the unsustainable and wasteful production/consumption cycle. It focuses on high-quality, long-lasting ethical products. 

Zero waste can be intimidating to start and even seem impossible to achieve depending on different factors. Below, you will learn about commonly asked questions about zero waste, and impactful actions you can do to make a positive difference.

Let’s take a closer look at:

  1. What is the zero waste movement? 
  2. Does zero waste make a difference? (+ tips for beginners)
  3. FAQ
  4. Conclusion

What is the zero waste movement?

The goal of zero waste is to produce as little trash as possible. The zero waste movement contains a set of beliefs:

  • Rethink – what we need and the way we buy
  • Refuse – and say ‘no’ to things we don’t need
  • Reduce – the things we use and focus on long-lasting products
  • Reuse – what we have 
  • Repair – what we can, instead of throwing things away
  • Recreate – DIY things whenever possible 
  • Compost – our food waste 
  • Recycle – what’s left (more about that later) 
does zero waste make a difference

Does zero waste make a difference? 

People who are adopting the zero waste lifestyle live with the everyday intention of not wasting or misusing resources. 

Instead of that, they use and rely on high-quality, long-lasting, ethical, local, package-free, or compostable products.

The zero waste movement strives to reduce and eliminate a significant portion of waste production through conscious consumerism. 

While it’s challenging to go zero waste in an imperfect world, that doesn’t mean we can’t make a positive impact. 

Ultimately, it’s not about perfection; it is about trying YOUR best, improving, and getting better along the way. Small things done by millions of people around the world can make a positive change. 

If we all believe our choices can have a good/bad impact, we can change things for the better.

Related post: Can Individual Actions Make A Difference On Climate Change?

Zero waste tips for beginners: 

  1. Do not aim for perfection – Start small, and use fewer resources from our precious planet by gradually lowering your waste, and being a conscious consumer. Try to avoid the things that will end up as waste, and look for alternatives.
  2. Try the 80-20 rule – Try to buy 80% of your groceries (and other things) plastic-free and package-free. Then, the last 20% can contain packaging and some plastic. In the beginning, it can be even 70-30 or 60-40 (60% package-free and 40% with packaging).
  3. Don’t compare your journey with others – We all have different needs, resources, and options. What works for someone may not work for you and the opposite. The point is to find what is accessible and available to you.
Does Zero Waste Make a Difference


Why zero waste is bad?

I saw some people asking this question, so I decided to answer it here. Zero waste has negative aspects, like everything. Some of the “bad” things about it are:

  1. Focusing on physical trash is good, but there is more to it. The reality is that waste comes in many forms. For example, as individuals, we generate greenhouse gasses from traveling, our food choices, etc. Focusing on merely buying things without plastic isn’t always the most important thing.
  2. Many people criticize the “zero” in zero waste. We can’t be genuinely 100% zero waste, as we figured that we need always to consider other “waste” streams and the energy we use. So, the term can be a bit misleading, which can be a negative aspect.
  3. Zero waste can be more expensive and more time-consuming. Often, you will spend more time searching for plastic-free products, DIY-ing things, etc.

Find more zero waste disadvantages and tips on tackling them here.

Why zero waste is important? 

Zero waste movement is important because it promotes beneficial and good values for our planet. 

While in the world we live in, being completely zero waste is hardly possible, the goal is to do anything we can to live more sustainably and be kinder to our planet. 

Slow and gradual change will positively impact our environment, even if we are not ‘perfect’. To learn more about that, find the 16 benefits of going zero waste.

Does Zero Waste Make a Difference

Are there other ways to live a sustainable life (which doesn’t include being zero waste)?

To live more sustainably means leaving fewer carbon emissions. This doesn’t always have to include ditching packaging or plastic. Some ways of lowering your carbon emissions include:

  1. Shop secondhand: Fast fashion has a significant negative impact on the planet. Find second-hand shops and buy things you need from there.
  2. Pick-up trash: Organize a local garbage pick-up or do it with a few of your friends in an area that needs a bit of cleaning! 
  3. Consider flying less: If possible, think first of more sustainable ways of traveling, such as a bus or a train.
  4. Try to lower animal product consumption: Animal agriculture has one of the most significant impacts on our planet. Find more about the benefits of reducing meat consumption and why you should try to look at and incorporate plant-based alternatives.

Find more ideas on how to be more sustainable here.

Does zero waste mean no recycling? 

Zero waste doesn’t exclude recycling. However, it is essential to remember that recycling comes at the end, after waste prevention. That’s because recycling is quite inefficient. The idea is to lower the waste you create as much as possible, considering different factors in your life. 

does zero waste make a difference

How to be zero waste without a bulk shop?

Sometimes, it can be a hustle to things package-free, especially if you don’t have a bulk shop nearby. But there are still some things you can do:

  1. Choose loose. You probably have bigger supermarkets, from where you can buy loose produce. Get reusable produce bags & buy your fruits and veggies from there. 
  2. Get reusables. This includes a reusable water bottle + food container, a reusable bag & utensils, a coffee mug, a metal straw, etc. 
  3. Farmers market. Most cities have a market at least once or twice per week. That’s an excellent opportunity to get fresh, local produce. 
  4. Find the best available option. Try to find what you need in more sustainable packaging, such as glass, aluminum, or recycled paper. (reuse + upcycle some of the containers if you can) 
  5. Look for places with a small bulk section. I was walking through a big supermarket in a regular shop and was happy to see a small, bulk section with different nuts and legumes.


Zero waste is a fantastic movement, and even though it has bad sides:

  • Zero waste can make a difference.
  • The positive aspects outweigh the negative ones. 
  • There are different ways to live more sustainably that don’t involve reducing your trash.
  • You shouldn’t aim for perfection, and you should focus on doing what’s accessible to you.
  • Also, do not compare your journey to others and focus on your personal actions.

I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Do you think zero waste makes a difference? Feel free to leave a comment below, and let me know what you think. 🙂

One Comment

  1. I’m not new to the zero waste concept and yet this was the first time I learned about the 80/20 concept! I loved the positivity and lack of judgement in this post…something I needed considering I’ve been struggling with the reality that I live rurally and don’t have major bulk stores near me. This makes getting things like cereal and rice extremely difficult and I was just resigning myself to going without. With your encouragement, I’ll do the best I can until I can find maybe an online alternative or something. Thank you for sharing your tips and knowledge!

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