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Zero-Waste Living, The Responsible Capitalist

Person throwing out garbage icon

Out with the old and in with the new, as a noble capitalist would say. Unfortunately, we can’t do this with the environment. As consumerism reaches an all-time high and our demand for single-use products keeps us on track for environmental destruction, we are eventually going to have to face this reality.

A good place to start is with packaging, which is the biggest contributor of waste, accounting for just over 40% of total plastic usage. To put this into perspective, we produce nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half which is for single use. Where does this plastic end up? Well, over 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. As you can begin to gather this throw-away society we have build up is not sustainable, which means our economy can’t be sustainable either.

What is Zero-Waste?

So what is zero-waste living? Well, it means that you contribute zero-landfill waste, including zero-recycled waste. Although, recycling is used as a last resort, because let’s be honest, producing zero waste is super hard.

Why Not Recycle?

Not only does recycling use quite a bit of energy and natural resources, but now China is no longer buying the world’s trash and recycling it. Since 2018, China banned certain plastic waste from being imported, as defined under the country’s National Sword policy.

I know what your thinking, our recycling was shipped to China? In short, yes. For over 25 years the USA, UK, Japan, and Canada have been exporting some 106-million metric tons of plastic to China, this is about 45% of the world's plastic.

Road curb with garbage bags

The Scale of the Problem

China’s new policy means that we need to either;

  1. Create infrastructure that can support this additional trash
  2. Transition to a minimal/zero-waste way of living
Beach shore with garbage everywhere

How to Start Living Waste Free

The good news is that this problem does have a solution- decrease your needless waste.

To do this, apply the 5R's principle before you accept or buy anything.

  1. Refuse any product that is needless & wasteful
  2. Reduce what you don’t need
  3. Reuse what you have already
  4. Recycle what can’t be reused (last resort)
  5. Rot aka compost the rest

*Apply the 5R’s in order