• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

How sustainable is zero waste?

ByAisling Kelly

Oct 30, 2023
refill counter with customer purchasing packaging free consumer goods.

We’ve all seen photos on Pinterest of those beautiful pantries with uniform glass jars of quinoa,
pasta and chia seeds lined on shelves floor to ceiling, or seen environmentalist making their own cleaning products and putting them into aesthetic glass bottles. In the wake of rather grim and depressing environmental news, the ‘Zero Waste’ trend has picked up steam in recent years as people are looking to cut down on their own carbon footprint.

As a young person entering into adulthood amidst this ecological crisis, it’s hard not to feel helpless and frustrated. Feeling like you are doing your part to help, however small, can offer a bit of moral clarity and calm. Without question, these efforts are not futile. The more individuals push for less packaging and waste, the less stress on the planet. Change has to start somewhere.

Most people following the ‘zero waste lifestyle’ tend to look at food and drink as their primary source of plastic, opting to get dried grains or even fill up washing liquid containers at their local bulk store instead of purchasing pre-packed plastic-wrapped items from Tesco. They will bring a reusable mug when going to buy coffee or try to purchase all their fresh produce at the farmer’s market. They will also refuse to purchase items online due to the waste produced by boxes and packaging, or will always have a tote bag on hand when going shopping in person.

While all of these are great practices which reduce your environmental footprint and support local businesses, they are not economically feasible for everyone, especially not the average student. Transitioning to this zero waste lifestyle, if to be done effectively, often comes with buying a lot of new things: glass jars, reusable water bottles, tote bags, cleaning spray bottles, and reusable wipes. Although the objective is that you only have to purchase these items once, they are not cheap and the bill can rack up pretty quickly. Not only that, but it is again an accumulation of more ‘things’ which use environmental resources to produce and ship them.

The bottom line with the zero waste lifestyle is that any kind of reduction in the amount of plastic we have in our lives is a great thing, especially as this often means supporting local and smaller businesses. If we put our money towards these brands, bigger corporations will follow and hopefully, we can move to a place where ’zero waste’ becomes easily accessible and the norm. But until then, if you can’t afford to purchase all your fancy containers, then don’t stress it.

At the end of the day, it’s down to these large corporations to make big-scale changes to their emissions and the products they offer, and not down to us to panic over what container we put our morning coffee in.

Image Credit: “Zero Waste Market” by SFU – Communications & Marketing is licensed under CC BY 2.0.