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Zero waste is a sustainability concept that aims to lower or eliminate waste. It can refer to a person’s lifestyle or a company’s strategy. The idea has six principles: Rethink – Refuse – Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Rot. The last principle refers to composing the waste.

Overall, the concept is about rethinking how we produce and consume, suggesting a more circular approach. The goal is to reduce all the waste worldwide and stop polluting the Earth.

The definition of Zero waste

The Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) define the concept as follows:

“The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

Different movements

The concept is trending all over the world. Many movements work with the theme, for example, ZWIAZW Europe and ZW Stockholm.

Picture of a landfill.

The ecological footprint

A more sustainable lifestyle is also related to lowering one’s ecological footprint. The ecological footprint (EF) is a measurement of how much of the Earth’s surface is needed to meet the needs of a person, company or country. The measure also includes production and waste management. In other words, a product’s entire life cycle. The ecological footprint is a great way to indicate how sustainable one’s consumption is.

More on Zero Waste

Zero waste for an industry (or company) can be about lowering or eliminating the use of dangerous chemicals. It can also concern the design or treatment of products. For instance, by making sure to produce long-lasting items. Or, at best, biodegradable products. A company can also consider using ecological materials and ensure that it has no negative effect on the ground, water, air, people or animals.

Why is waste bad?

Waste leads to air pollution, soil- and water contamination and climate change, as most waste worldwide gets managed poorly. Also, both the transport and treatment of waste release CO2. For example, landfills, a typical way of storing waste today, release the greenhouse gas methane. More so, landfills are known to damage the nearby environment. Many times, they also lead to contaminated water.

Example of source: Zero Waste Stockholm

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