Image from All Around Plastics

New to sustainability and “zero waste?” This is a perfect starting point, but before we get into reusable bags and safety razors, let’s talk about how I define zero waste.

Zero waste rejects our current linear model of “take, make, and throw away.” Within this model we take natural resources, we make a product by using more resources, chemicals, and emitting more pollution into the atmosphere, and then we finally dispose of the items once they no longer serve us. Typically via landfill as less than 9% of recyclable items actually make it into the recycle bin.

Image taken from All Around Plastics

Instead, zero waste rejects a linear model in favor of a circular model. As you can see, within this model, we remove dispose. Instead we attempt to reuse items, refuse items we don’t need, and encourage companies to allow for returns (e.g., Plaine Products encouraging customers to return empty shampoo bottles in order for the company to refill and reuse).