Zero Waste: Getting Started.

by Matilda Smiles 3 months ago in industry

the beginning of the journey to being zero waste

Zero Waste: Getting Started.

Let me start off by saying that 'zero waste' will be a coniunous journey. In our consumerist culture nothing comes without some kind of waste attatched to it. Alas, that should not stop us from trying our hardest to minimise our impact on this poor little earth. Here is the beginning of my journey - about a year of being conscious of what I'm buying. Read for some useful tips, some interesting stories, and what I've learned.

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.

- Robert Swan

Realising The Truth.

I loved things that were cheap. I loved shops that were cheap. I loved shops. Poundland, 99p store, The Works, Wilkinsons, (can you tell I'm British yet?). Sales, 'All Must Go!', Reduced Sections all were my JAM.

Now I look at store fronts or occastionally go in for a glance and I end up getting depressed at how wasteful every single product is. The induvidually wrapped sweets, the plastic shampoo the colour of toxic waste and the unnecessary packaging that will be thrown away the second it is taken out through the shop doors. So many single-use items that I now know will take longer to biodegrade than the customers' lifespan.

- I mean it's just crazy.

Buy, Consume, Treat and Repeat.

So what do we do with this information? Buy less. Easy right?

Well sure, untill you walk out your house, hop on the bus and above you there is an ad for headphones oooo they look nice. Put on your spotify and because you're cheap they'll be ads and - ooo that sounds nice. Look at your nails on the bus - I need to buy some nail polish. Get off the bus and you get bombarded with shops, sales, things that will fill that void. You go in a shop just to take a look, every item is calling your name and there's a sale on so what the hell . You want a coffee but you have a busy life so you grab one in a plastic cup and take it to work. On your lunchbreak you buy a meal deal because again, ya cheap. Time to go home and on the way you walk past another shop - you remember that ad from earlier in the day and suddenly that brand new pair of headphones looks amazing, you already own some but these are way more technologically advanced and you have worked so hard today so you treat yourself and walk out feeling fulfilled. Waiting for your bus you look at the bus stop ad before listing to your podcast: "we'd like to take this time to say a big thank you to our sponsor". You arrive home and jump straigt into bed, pop on your headphones and online shop till you drop.

Now, thats an exaggeration and for all I know you may have self control, who am I to say what your life is? But theres no doubt we are bombarded with products 24/7. Buying something gives us dopamine, and advertisements make us crave that feeling, make us feel we need things when we really may not. When you get into that bubble of consumption - it really is difficult to escape...


...that is where your values come in.

Once you educate yourself on the ethics of fast fashion, the plastic in the ocean and the danger plastic is causing to our health, it's difficult to ignore. When you are about to buy something you can think back to your values and it can realy ground you. To help, I'll pop some facts in. Click on them to see the sources.

- Retailers of fast fashion dump toxic chemicals into clean water supplies because clothing production is a land- and water-intensive industry.

- More than 1,000 textile workers in Bangladesh have died in fires and building collapses where clothes for Primark and other brands were made between 2009 and 2013

- 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.

- In seawater plastic absorbs chemicals like PCB’s and DDT’s which have been linked to endocrine disruption and even some cancers, becoming more powerful as they work their way up the food chain.

- Every Sunday, more than 500,000 trees are used to produce the 88% of newspapers that are never recycled.

- The total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2017 was 267.8 million tons (U.S. short tons, unless specified) or 4.51 pounds per person per day.


We all know the planet needs out help. The next step is of course - solutions. How to buy less and how to make a difference.

Buy second hand. Ebay, charity shops, gumtree - it's cheaper too! Avoid giving money to new materials and buy things that are no longer loved by others.

Swap clothes or items with friends.

30 Day 'I want' list. Before buying something you want, write it down and in 30 days if you still feel like you need it then allow yourself to splash out.

Limit advertisement exposure as much as possible and unsubscribe to emails.

What about the day-to-day essentials? That's where Zero waste swaps come in.

Next Time: Zero Waste Swaps

thanks for reading

this is my first article and i really enjoyed writing about something i'm passionate about

hope you enjoyed

Matilda Smiles
Matilda Smiles
Read next: 2320
Matilda Smiles

I write about the low/zero waste movement, studying and veganism

See all posts by Matilda Smiles