Amid a whirlwind of environmental disasters, people around the world are looking to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. Many choose to pursue the “zero-waste” lifestyle, which reduces solid waste products through mindful consumption. As a method of social and environmental activism, zero-waste living alleviates poverty by rejecting exploitative industries and uplifting ethical ones.
Entrepreneurs and businesses are catching on to the rising popularity of zero-waste living. Mindful consumption is a cornerstone of zero-waste living that involves purchasing products that manufacturers produce ethically, sustainably and with the least amount of waste possible. Small grocery stores like Zero Green in Bristol help shoppers avoid disposable packaging and purchase local, sustainable goods. Zero-waste stores use reusable containers made of glass and other long-lasting materials instead of single-use products similar to plastic.
At Zero Green, everything in the shop, even the shelving and storage, is “upcycled.” Customers who visit zero-waste shops can bring their own reusable containers and bags to carry groceries back home. The rising demand for zero-waste shops could help expand the zero-waste living movement while making it more accessible and affordable to the masses. Zero-waste living alleviates poverty by uplifting small businesses that prioritize ethical, sustainable products and packaging.
Rejecting Fast Fashion
The zero-waste living movement has inspired brands and consumers to reject fast fashion. Fast fashion is the disposable, cheaply produced clothing that results from exploitative labor and environmental degradation. Fashion brands including Zero Waste Daniel and Aissata Ibrahima stand up to the fast fashion industry by creating ethical and sustainable clothes while producing minimal waste.
For example, the founder of Zero Waste Daniel, Daniel Silverstein, said his clothing company takes 12 to 18 months to fill up a single garbage bag of waste. Zero-waste fashion brands are one of many ways to reject fast fashion. Consumers opting to be zero-waste can also purchase second-hand clothes, make and repair their own clothes and buy high-quality clothes that will last for several years. Zero-waste living can help alleviate poverty by rejecting fast fashion, which exploits workers in impoverished communities.
At large, the objectives of zero-waste living are to consume less and consume mindfully. Zero-waste brands and stores help consumers shop mindfully. Consuming less, however, takes place largely outside of the marketplace and inside the minds of consumers. It involves repair, reuse and recycling. Dianna Cohen, the founder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, said zero-waste living is a mindset that takes time to fully adapt to. The zero-waste lifestyle involves making small, daily decisions that prioritize sustainability and waste reduction. Those who partake in the “consume less” principle of zero-waste living protest against exploitative products by simply not purchasing them.
The Goal is Progress, Not Perfection
The idea of zero-waste living may seem unattainable to the average person. Many small steps that lead toward a waste-free lifestyle, including purchasing reusable straws and ice trays, can significantly reduce an individual’s plastic consumption over time. Any progress on the path to becoming a more ethical, waste-free consumer, no matter how small or slow, can make a difference.
– Cleo Hudson