The Zero Waste movement is creating awareness that the earth’s pollution starts in our homes. When individuals take action to eliminate their disposable household trash, countries and corporations follow suit.
What is Your Eco Footprint?
Have you ever thought about the household garbage that you throw away? The Zero Waste Home movement wants to reduce your eco-footprint. Founder Bea Johnson states that for the past decade, her family has refused, reduced, re-used, recycled, and rotted (composted) their waste down to a single annual jar of trash. Actor Jeff Bridges is working with the Plastic Pollution Coalition to reduce the 88,000 tons of plastic Americans generate every day. This group claims that plastic items now outnumber sea life 6 to 1in our oceans. One-use disposable plastic items, such as plastic grocery bags and water bottles, take up to 450 years to decompose.
Why You Should Care?
Reducing waste can seem daunting. How can one person clean up an ocean? But the Zero Waste movement is gaining ground through a variety of awareness campaigns. The Strawless Ocean Campaign, which is endorsed by e Ellen Pompeo, asks people to reject disposable plastic straws at home or when dining out. While the success of this campaign reduces waste, it also keeps ecological issues at the forefront every time someone reaches for a drink.
Many people are already using cloth bags at the grocery stores and replacing one-time water bottles with reusable ones. But the movement is taking waste reduction further by replacing household items, such as toothbrushes, with biodegradables, such as bamboo and wood, and encouraging the use of shampoo and hair conditions bars instead of liquids in plastic shampoo bottles. Etee Food Wraps, which are made of compostable wax-covered cloth, is replacing plastic food wrap. Other examples are non-chemical DIY household cleaners are made from natural bulk ingredients, or monthly paper statements and books that are replaced electronically, or disposable plastic diapers replaced by paper or cloth nappies. Backyard composting is also becoming popular with kids and schools.
Awareness goes Global
The onus of recycling often falls on the consumer, but the Zero Waste movement is beginning to shift that burden to manufacturers, retailers, and governments. Local restaurants and national chains are banning the use of plastic straws, and some retail stores are shifting away from excess packaging to returnable containers. Others are replacing disposable plastic with soy-based items that decompose more readily.
More than 200 countries, including France, Costa Rica and Germany are outlawing one-use plastic items. Although recent trade barriers in the US are raising concerns about recycled waste that formerly went to China, leaders are taking note that recycling can create jobs and be profitable. For example, roadways can be built from recycled plastic bottles.