12-14 May 2017.
Old Truman Brewery,
London.
  • Zero Waste

What is the Zero Waste Movement?

By Yasmeen Patel

Yasmeen Patel is the founder of The Dry Goods Store, West London’s happy healthy lifestyle store filled with natural foods, organic groceries and nice people. TDGS believe zero waste living is cool and makes a difference to our bodies, mind and planet. In store you'll find a selection of pantry essentials, such as organic lentils, flour, nuts or spices to buy in bulk. Great fair-trade coffee is sold in biodegradable cups and freshly baked, homemade cakes can be found on the counter. TDGS also do a fruit & veg box scheme from the brilliant bio-dynamic Brockmans Farm in Kent. 
 
Yasmeen started thinking about zero waste a few years ago when she began noticing the amount of packaging waste she and her husband produced each week. Upon learning that 40%-50% of the food that is produced globally ends up as garbage Yasmeen thought to herself: "why do I really need that pasta packet when all I do is go home and put it into my own jar? Why can’t I just take my jar to the store and buy the exact amount I need?"
 
In 2013, she launched The Dry Goods Store to save customers the time and hassle of searching for ethical, natural products. It was the perfect opportunity to showcase package-free items that would lighten the customer’s footprint on our Earth. TDGS partnered with Kate Arnell from The Eco Boost Blog to bring everyone helpful fun videos on all things green.

 

 
So, what is Zero Waste?
  
According to French-born and American based waste-free guru Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home (2013), the book that started it all, it is “a philosophy based on a set of practices aimed at avoiding as much waste as possible.” Those practices she says, come down to the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. That is, refusing what you don’t need (like freebies, junk mail), reducing what you do need (decluttering your home), reusing what you have (plants can work as air fresheners), recycling (if you must buy new, choose glass, metal, or cardboard) and rotting (composting).
 
Johnson has highlighted that this lifestyle has lead her and her family to significant health benefits, as well as time and money savings. Think of that extra weekend away you could then afford.
 
Some might be intimidated by trying to fit a years worth of waste into a mason jar, as done by New York blogger and entrepreneur Lauren Singer or German author Shia Su. Don’t be. It’s a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. Like all good things, it takes time.
 
Who coined the term?
 
Back in the 70s, a Californian company called Zero Waste Systems managed to handle chemicals being excessed by the nascent electronics industry, reselling them to scientists, experimenters and other companies. They were the only ones doing it, so they gained international notoriety. ZWS founder, chemist Paul Palmer founded the Zero Waste Institute and wrote Getting to Zero Waste (2005). He declared that zero waste “is a practical theory of how to wring maximum efficiency from the use of resources (…) where the best way to avoid waste is to reuse everything over and over – perpetually. This can only be done if reuse is designed into all products, right from the start.”
 

Waste = Food
 
Palmer’s idea was further developed by architect McDonough and chemist Braungart in Cradle to Cradle, ReMaking the Way We Make Things (2009). They say that useless waste doesn’t take place in nature, waste is always a nutrient for other processes. They arrived to the equation waste = food: an animal that dies, it’ll feed the grass, insects and other animals. So why, is it that we human beings, being part of nature, produce such large amounts of waste?
 
In their publication, the authors explain how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful lives, they will provide nourishment for something new. This way the Industrial Revolution’s “cradle to grave” manufacturing model (resources extracted, made into an object, then thrown away to a landfill), should finally rest in peace.
 
What does it mean to be Zero Waste?
 
Zero waste is the alternative we have as consumers until everything is designed with a cradle-to-cradle mindset. It’s minimalism with a purpose. It’s simplifying your life. It’s about how to live a more balanced, conscious and eco-friendly life by eliminating waste from your daily routine. It's about DIY and making smart and informed choices of consumption. It's about supporting and embracing what's local and natural.

It's mainly about living in tune with our environment and community.
 

 

5 Steps to start your Zero Waste Journey

 

If less is more is already a motto in your life and you feel inspired by Gandhi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world”, you too can be part of this movement. Here’s how:
 
Read

Garbology by Edward Humes
Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins & l. hunter lovins
Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith
How Bad are Bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee
 
Be inspired

Browse Pinterest and Instagram for #zerowaste #zerodechet #bulk #vrac #unpackaged #unverpackt. Also, look out for Zero Waste Week London coming up in September.
 
Watch

We highly recommend the documentaries Just Eat It, A Food Waste Story, Plastic Paradise and The True Cost.
 
Declutter 

Freegle stuff or sell it on Ebay. Apply Marie Kondo’s Japanese KonMari method to tidy your home.
 
Swap

Ah, the romantic handkerchiefs, the beautiful refillable bottles and reusable coffee cups, the stylish shopping totes and cloth napkins. Replace in lieu of disposable tissues, plastic bottles, disposable coffee cups, plastic bags and paper napkins.

Join us

Check out our social media channels for tips and tricks on how you can prepare your own homemade granola, stock and tomato sauce, resulting in no waste at all. Come join our Zero Waste Beauty workshop by our Zero Waste devotee Maria Stone in October.

Balance Festival What is the Zero Waste Movement?