Green / Eco-Friendly

Is a zero-waste lifestyle really possible?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 20th, 2018 2:10 pm
[OP]
Sr. Member
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Aug 22, 2014
999 posts
476 upvotes
Toronto, ON

Is a zero-waste lifestyle really possible?

I hadn't heard about this trend until I saw it in the news recently. Has anyone tried to implement this in their lives? Seems interesting but VERY ambitious. I can't imagine paring down a year's worth of waste into one mason jar but kudos to her for making it work.

https://nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/ecohol ... -into-her/
Letting go of anything they didn’t need, love or use snowballed into saying no to plastic bags, paper towels and pretty much anything that couldn’t be purchased in bulk and spooned into mason jars or cloth sacks. Soon Johnson was experimenting with making everything from scratch, from bread to toilet paper and makeup.

Now Johnson and her family can famously fit a year’s worth of trash into a single mason jar – and her blog and best-selling book, Zero Waste Home (translated into 17 languages), have spawned a growing army of zero-waste bloggers doing the same.
16 replies
Deal Fanatic
Jan 27, 2006
8836 posts
3055 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
Zero waste - No. Ultra-low waste - maybe. Low waste - yes. It really depends what your filter is on the size and type of things that you can call waste.

A great example would be clothes. If you consider the argument that many of the fibers that come off of clothes when they are washed go into the waste stream and aren't caught but flushed into the environment, then it can be argued that those fibers are waste. And if you consider that many of the lower cost fabrics break down fairly quickly in a few laundry cycles, then that's really four to five times the volume per year per person that's in that small mason jar. You can also say that same thing about shoes and tires as they wear into fine particles on the road and those particles just don't disappear into nothingness either.
[OP]
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Aug 22, 2014
999 posts
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Toronto, ON
craftsman wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 1:47 pm
Zero waste - No. Ultra-low waste - maybe. Low waste - yes. It really depends what your filter is on the size and type of things that you can call waste.

A great example would be clothes. If you consider the argument that many of the fibers that come off of clothes when they are washed go into the waste stream and aren't caught but flushed into the environment, then it can be argued that those fibers are waste. And if you consider that many of the lower cost fabrics break down fairly quickly in a few laundry cycles, then that's really four to five times the volume per year per person that's in that small mason jar. You can also say that same thing about shoes and tires as they wear into fine particles on the road and those particles just don't disappear into nothingness either.
Good point. I eventually realized all the cheap clothing I was buying at huge discounts were a waste of money. Now I'll do a bit more research for a well constructed item made of better quality material.

There are "5 R's" to this approach.
  1. refuse
  2. reduce
  3. reuse (+repair)
  4. recycle
  5. rot
I think "refuse" is concept a lot of people should consider when shopping. Nowadays when I consider buying something I ask myself if I can make do without it since I live in a small space with very little storage. I can't think of a single time when I've regretted walking away from a purchase.
Deal Guru
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Mar 14, 2005
11877 posts
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City of Vancouver
http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/ ... fault.aspx

All of us make decisions every day that impact how much garbage we send to the landfill and waste-to-energy facility. The Zero Waste Challenge is about figuring out how to greatly reduce that garbage.

The challenge for Metro Vancouver, which manages the region's waste, is to increase awareness that reducing and reusing waste are a priority to managing waste sustainably. This requires advocating policies and regulations to reduce waste, opening discussions on the approach to consumer goods to include more durable, repairable and recyclable goods, and encouraging citizens to act. What does it mean to reduce, reuse and recycle more (the 3 Rs)?

Work with other governments, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and businesses to advocate increased reduce and reuse initiatvies (the first 2 Rs)
Provide tools such as an online recycling database, promote best practices for business, strengthen the market for recyclable materials (the third R)

The challenge is for each of us is to:

Reduce our waste (for example, choosing products that last, products made from recycled material)
Reconsider what we throw away (for example, ensuring small appliances are recycled, inedible food is composted)
Start a Zero Waste Community Challenge
Become a Zero Waste School
Reduce garbage at work

The challenge for our society is to move away from producing and favouring disposable products, and instead design for a waste-free future.


"Zero waste" is a concept that's been talked about by "the regional authorities" for some time now here. When the landfill is approaching 100% capacity and u gotta truck garbage to areas further afield, you wish more people would think about "zero waste".

It may be nice to think that donating stuff is good for the environment, but I get very uncomfortable when I go into a second-hand store filled with crap. This stuff shouldn't have been made in the first place, but I guess our consumer culture is all about selling products. What would happen to our economy if we stopped over-consuming?

The thing about our garbage is that when we throw something away, we never think about it again. Out of sight, out of mind. It's only when there is a garbage strike that people have to face their garbage footprint.

There's a reason why garbage pickup here is only once every two weeks. It is because it costs money to put garbage in a landfill. But a lot of people don't think, and they complain, rather than think about the bigger picture.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2001
15017 posts
5284 upvotes
Personally I like using things like store bought toilet paper and throwing it down the drain after a single use so I guess I will never be able to fit a years worth of waste into a single mason jar. For those that can sacrifice it, all the power to them.

I find these extremes do more harm than good. Few are ever able to take it this far and it ends up discouraging more people than it actually helps.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 27, 2006
8836 posts
3055 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
Becks wrote:
Oct 27th, 2017 2:37 pm
It may be nice to think that donating stuff is good for the environment, but I get very uncomfortable when I go into a second-hand store filled with crap. This stuff shouldn't have been made in the first place, but I guess our consumer culture is all about selling products. What would happen to our economy if we stopped over-consuming?
I completely agree! In addition, I believe that most people 'donate' stuff to make them feel good about 'recycling' rather than starting with reducing. And when most people 'donate' stuff (you can see it next to those donation dumpsters), much of the stuff is not in good condition (ie. clothes have holes or haven't been cleaned before donating) or it's stuff that just shouldn't be there (ie. that old CRT TV or sofa sitting in the rain next to the dumpster). The charity actually spends more money sometimes getting rid of stuff that should have been thrown away or improperly handled (ie furniture left at a clothing donation box only to be rained on) than they make from the donations!
Deal Addict
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Oct 13, 2008
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Oshawa
ZERO waste. What a joke. Can't happen.

Bones from a rack of ribs = food waste ... takes forever to degrade.

Empty Potato Chips Bag = waste

Old Incandescent light bulbs / fluorescent tubes = waste ... even LED light bulbs as well ....
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Sep 21, 2010
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Member
Apr 28, 2014
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Waterloo, ON
AV-Fishing wrote:
Nov 19th, 2017 7:26 pm
ZERO waste. What a joke. Can't happen.

Bones from a rack of ribs = food waste ... takes forever to degrade.

Empty Potato Chips Bag = waste

Old Incandescent light bulbs / fluorescent tubes = waste ... even LED light bulbs as well ....
Bones definitely take longer to compost than, say, potato peels, but it's probably more like a year or two than forever. Large-scale composting facilities have no problems with them. Or bones can be turned into bone meal for plants, or feed.

Maybe potato chips shouldn't be packaged in single-use plastic bags. Maybe they should be in paper as before, or a biodegradable material. That has costs, but it's not technically difficult.

I have no idea how easily different types of lamps can be recycled, but I imagine they can be. A lot of that type of thing is a matter of cost- the cost to produce new to the producers is more than the cost of recycling. But that equation can be changed.

Zero waste seems impossible to me, too. But lowering waste dramatically is probably well within reach.
Deal Fanatic
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Sep 21, 2010
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Montréal
Zero waste is impossible because at one pt even if we're assuming that we're "perfect" now to the environment, we weren't before that pt, so some damage was already done.

That leads me to the next pt, why do ppl bother procreating? We are a net -ive to the world.
The richest 1% of this country owns half our country’s wealth, 5 trillion dollars, one-third of that comes from hard work, two-thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons, and what I do.. <find the rest>
Sr. Member
Sep 9, 2017
834 posts
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Winnipeg
I was at Superstore on Black Friday and joined a group chatting in front of a printer display. Of course it's just a matter of time before you hear that some people are picking up the new printer because it's cheaper than buying ink for the one they already have at home. I despair a little when I think about it. I just refilled 4 ink cartridges at Costco for $55 (it would have been $150 for new cartridges), and although the price is still fairly high, given the cost of the actual ink, I feel really good about the "reuse" aspect of it.
Sr. Member
Sep 9, 2017
834 posts
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Winnipeg
sn00ch wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 2:45 pm
There are "5 R's" to this approach.
  1. refuse
  2. reduce
  3. reuse (+repair)
  4. recycle
  5. rot
I think "refuse" is concept a lot of people should consider when shopping. Nowadays when I consider buying something I ask myself if I can make do without it since I live in a small space with very little storage. I can't think of a single time when I've regretted walking away from a purchase.
I really like this. So much of what we buy is unnecessary, or we already have an item at home that would fulfill the same purpose, but maybe it's just not new and shiny.
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2010
12547 posts
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Here 'n There
I compost, recycle, reuse & reduce and have the smallest waste bin the city provides but still can't get to zero waste but I do have ultra low waste. I even save the corks from wine bottles and donate them to the LCBO, give stuff away on https://groups.freecycle.org/group/Toronto/posts/all, throw my old clothes into clothes recycling bins (even the ripped and/or stained ones as I hear they are shredded), refill my colour laser cartridges using toner from inkowl.com, print only what I need, reuse the other blank side of paper that has already gone through my laser printer, etc.

The biggest culprit I find in creating waste is the plastic packaging of food and consumer products. Much of it cannot be recycled.
Banned
Apr 1, 2018
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sn00ch wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 2:45 pm
Good point. I eventually realized all the cheap clothing I was buying at huge discounts were a waste of money. Now I'll do a bit more research for a well constructed item made of better quality material.

There are "5 R's" to this approach.
  1. refuse
  2. reduce
  3. reuse (+repair)
  4. recycle
  5. rot
I think "refuse" is concept a lot of people should consider when shopping. Nowadays when I consider buying something I ask myself if I can make do without it since I live in a small space with very little storage. I can't think of a single time when I've regretted walking away from a purchase.
Great point, thanks! I recently started to implement the refuse point, and it saves me a huge amount of money, not mentioning the overconsumption concerns. I think if many people take this approach seriously, we could produce much less waste!
Deal Addict
Oct 2, 2005
3132 posts
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Toronto
I have recently started avoiding plastics. It's been eye opening to say the least! Love the Bulk Barn program where you can bring in your containers. Any other eco-friendly places that help with reducing bringing home plastic? I know the Body Shop years ago had a trade in your plastic bottle for a new one program, but seems like they've discontinued that.

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