Did you know that soft plastics cause the greatest number of deaths of all marine animals? 

Or that 81 out of 123 marine mammal species are known to have eaten or been entangled in plastic? That’s a whopping majority of precious marine mammal life living with severe physical injuries or toxins in their bodies due to something entirely out of their control. 

The term ‘zero waste’ can be daunting for some, as can any lifestyle change. We might already try to cut down on our plastic use in some ways – such as opting against using plastic straws at a bar or refusing a plastic bag at the supermarket – but practising zero waste goes beyond limiting our plastic use, and more steps can always be taken to reduce the waste we accumulate in our lives. 

A zero waste approach has endless benefits to our world, which includes building community, protecting animals and also protecting our planet. Being zero waste enhances social equity through initiatives such as community gardens, projects focused on redistributing food and useful goods to those in need, and having meaningful connections with each other within these groups. The benefits of zero waste also include minimising pollution by conserving our resources, which eventually leads to fewer products being manufactured that cause greenhouse gas emissions to our climate and less physical harm towards animals.

The war on waste has been brewing for years, and the onus has been set on us individuals to eradicate this issue alone. Our government refuses to acknowledge the damage our anthropocentrism has caused, and our oceans are being destroyed by the plastic pollution from our waste. Fish are continuing to die from the consumption of microplastics, and marine mammal habitats are being disrupted, making it difficult for these species to live and breed naturally. Despite filling up our yellow rubbish bins for decades and buying into deceptive greenwashing marketing schemes, these efforts are unfortunately not enough. Our comfort in how much we waste works as a chain progression, and I urge you to keep in check with yourself on how much waste you accumulate. Living under a system that dictates what we buy and where we buy it, trying to eradicate our personal waste as much as possible seems to be all we have left.

Being zero waste is not about being a hard-line waste warrior from day dot – it is a gradual, stepping-stone process that can advance as fast or as slow as you like. The beauty of slowly changing your daily habits is that while these miniscule changes seem insignificant, overtime it becomes a common practice that collectively makes invaluable change. Living in alignment with your values works as a compass that points towards an honest and fulfilling life. If you care about human-kind, animals, and the future of this planet, reducing your waste footprint is a good place to start.

It is important to recognise that while a zero waste lifestyle can be a relatively easy change for some, individual circumstances may impact its accessibility for everybody. Financial strain, single-parenthood, mental health and food insecurity are a few of many reasons why somebody might not be able to adhere to living without waste, and these people are not to blame, it is instead the fault of a system we are dependent on that has a monopoly over what we can consume. Humans aren’t perfect, and it isn’t realistic that everybody can meet a zero waste standard. It is worth stating that everybody can do their part to different degrees, which includes undertaking other meaningful endeavours outside of being waste-free that work towards making this world a better place. We must recognise these differences and the further obstacles that individuals may face before assuming being zero waste is a one-size-fits-all way of living. 

If you have the ability to change the role waste has in our current world and would like to begin your own zero waste journey, click here to access our toolkit of minor tweaks to make in your life that will help minimise your waste consumption considerably.

Caitie Wilson

Caitie Wilson (she/her) is the Communications Manager at Kindness Project and also works as the Administrative, Social Media & Fundraising Manager at Farm Transparency Project. She became vegan after her studies at university with lecturer Peter Singer, and writes on collective liberation with the intention of creating compassion towards each other, towards animals and to our planet. Caitie is passionate about zero waste practices, and likes to experiment with vegan cooking in her spare time. She is currently making efforts towards living in an off-grid tiny home with her partner and rescue pup to direct her interest of sustainable living into her personal life.

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