It is creating no waste. This means sending nothing to landfill, but also that there is no waste of energy, water, and resources in production and transportation.
Is that even possible?
At this point, often it is not. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to live this way with the hope that it will create change and inspire others, businesses and governments to help produce an economy that is circular instead of linear.
Wait, what's a circular economy?
We currently live a linear economy where we take finite resources, use them and then discard them into landfill. A circular economy is one that tries to mimic nature in that resources are used and reused over and over again and never go to waste. A circular economy is one that supports and can even regenerate our natural environment instead of depleting it of resources and leaving it polluted.
What's the problem with a linear economy?
Many resources are finite, meaning that when we have used them up, they're gone for good. Even resources that are renewable in our word often need to be kept within a balance to stay usable. Currently we are using more resources than the world can provide or deal with.
Each year the world has an Overshoot Day - the day marking the point in the year where we have already used up all the resources that the planet can sustain for that year. In 2018 it was on the 1st of August, meaning we have used up 12 months of resources in just 7 months. For many countries their individual overshoot day comes much earlier in the year. Simply, this is not sustainable and we can't continue like this without starting to see the ramifications.
What does that mean for me?
Just because we don't live in a zero waste economy doesn't mean you can't start to live in a way that is more in keeping with a circular economy. For example, growing your own vegetables from cuttings, composting the waste and using that to grow next years vegetables is it's own mini circular economy. Even when we cannot fully live in a circular economy, we can choose to engage less with linear economies - like refilling your own water bottle instead of buying a new plastic one every time.
Does it make a difference?
Yes. You sending less to landfill and producing less emissions does make an impact, but you would be correct in thinking that it is a drop in the ocean compared to the waste and emissions from big corporations. However, the more people choose to live this way, the more people take notice. We only get change when governments and businesses see that many individual people are passionate about something enough to change their own day to day lives. Already we are seeing companies like coffee chains start to offer their own branded reusable coffee cups because of consumer demand.
Okay, where do I start?
Have a look at the two posts below.