Can a zero waste lifestyle really make a difference? The short answer is yes. If you're one of the millions of people who watched Blue Planet last year, mouth agape in horror, contemplating the damage we are causing the natural world, the likelihood is you're somewhere on a journey towards living a zero waste lifestyle. Journey is a good word, because that's exactly what becoming zero waste is (exit anyone looking for an overnight success).
When you think of the zero waste movement, it's become somewhat synonymous with images of years worth of waste, squashed down into one glass jar. When thinking about how much waste we can go through in just one day, it can make embarking on this journey seem daunting, perhaps even impossible. As part of the exciting launch of Sancho's Zero Waste Collection, we're here to tell you how even the smallest swap can make a massive difference.
What is Zero Waste?
What does zero waste actually mean? Put simply, it's a philosophy that aims to see nothing sent to a landfill, incinerators or, indeed, end up in the ocean. Instead, consumers are encouraged to reduce what we need, reuse what we can, send the remainder to recycling and compost whatever we can't. The alternative to zero waste is a reality we have all lived in for decades, which is where much of what we throw away ends up in landfill.
When you start putting facts and figures against the amount of landfill generated by even the small island of the UK, it gets quite scary. For example, the UK generated 222.9 million tonnes of total waste in 2016, with 52.3 million tonnes of this ending up in landfill [source: Defra]. Landfills are designed to operate differently to a composting pile, so the rubbish can take decades to decompose. Additionally, before the UK was adhering to EU regulations, plenty of things that should not have been going to landfill have made their way there. Over time, landfills have a distinctive effect on air pollution, nature, land and humans [see more at Sciencing.com]. Don't even get us started on the fact that we recently learnt that our litter has been exported to countries with seriously questionable records on things like marine pollution....
It's Not All Doom and Gloom
If after reading the above, you're thinking a good option would be to pack one of these eco-roller backpacks and hop on the first shuttle to outer space, we can confirm it's not all doom and gloom! The zero waste movement, which first gained prominence back in 1998, is going to be sticking around like much of what is in landfill right now. It has transitioned from trend to becoming a full blown movement and is saving millions of single use items from ending up in landfill or the ocean. People are making whole careers out of showing us how it can be done, like the Zero Waste Chef, Trash is for Tossers and the Zero Waste Collective. Following folk like this also points to the fact that going zero waste actually forces us to use a dollop of creativity once you've done the initial swaps.
It Starts With a Simple Swap
For anyone feeling overwhelmed about where to start, one simple swap is the way to go. A great starting point is to get your hands on a reusable water bottle and save the tonnes of pesky plastic from ironically, ending up in waterways across the world. We are so lucky in this country to be able to drink water from the tap, so why don't we? An optimum amount to drink per day is around 6-8 glasses (around 1.2 litres according to the NHS) to stop us from getting dehydrated. Say we achieved this by not purchasing 3 plastic bottles a day, that is 1,095 bottles that can be stopped from going to landfill every year. And that's just the difference that one person can make. Let alone if all the 66,000,000 people living in the UK ditched the plastic.