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A Message From Nature: The zero waste lifestyle: A trendy illusion


ADELANA AKINDES | akind001@rangers.uwp.edu

I first found out about the zero waste movement a few years ago after stumbling across a video on YouTube. The woman who made the video, Lauren Singer, had gone a year living a ‘zero waste lifestyle’ and all the waste she did produce was concealed within a single mason jar. She used homemade toothpaste, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable upcycled razors and glass jars instead of plastic containers. It seemed impossibly green, chic and eco-friendly.

Zero waste thinking has its advantages, mainly by drawing constant attention to the issue of waste. By committing to a zero waste lifestyle, this awareness becomes instilled into everyday decisions and thoughts. One takes into consideration how much waste they produce, how much is thrown away and what in their lives can be used more than once. One may learn to value things that last longer, that have more staying power in one’s life and which are not easily disposed of.

Yet the issue of waste cannot be solved from individual choices about what to buy. We can try navigating the market to find products that fit a zero waste standard: no plastic packaging, long term use, no complex methods of disposal required. Yet when one goes grocery shopping with their reusable bags and mason jars, buying items in bulk, it is impossible to notice all of the other items, the wasteful, one-use items which are still the norm. It is the mindset of capitalism, hyper-focused on increasing profit, that is the root of the problem. It is this constant overarching system of overproduction and misuse of resources which ultimately needs to change for ‘zero waste’ to be a realistic vision.

Simply because waste does not reside in your own home, does not make it any less of a reality somewhere else. No matter what the consumer chooses to do with the waste in their own home, it is still being made on a mass scale. The consumer is not the true producer of waste. When one wishes to rid one’s life of plastic products for example, they are only navigating a maze. Whether one uses plastic or not, it’s still being produced and mass distributed on a grand and global scale.

What the zero waste lifestyle does is bring to a person’s attention the materials they use, where these materials come from, and where these materials are going. It is in this way that conscious consumerism is as an effective step for the consumer. Yet in order for any large-scale, long-term solutions to be made with environmental degradation, it is time for the true producers of waste, the giant corporations of this planet, to consciously consume.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of The Ranger News.

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