By Lea Schagen, Germany
Some of you may have already heard the term “Zero Waste Lifestyle” or at least you can image what it implies. There are people in today’s world, who refuse to produce waste. Sounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it? This is what I thought when I became aware with this topic for the first time, which was in class here at EF. We watched a Ted Talk about a pretty young woman who lives a zero waste lifestyle in New York City.
First of all, I would like to explain to you guys why this topic is so important for us.
Trash is intimately connected to every environmental problem we face today, from climate change and habitat destruction to water pollution and chemical exposure. This is no exaggeration, it is the ugly truth. All the trash we produce in our daily lives has to go somewhere after we throw it in the garbage, but, unfortunately, the majority just ignore this question. We produce tons of trash, especially plastic. For example, when we go to “Ralph’s” for our lunch, it will be packed in plastic, or when we brush our teeth before going to school, our toothpaste comes out of a plastic tube. Of course in the end, the packaging will be thrown into the garbage. Then it ends up at one of the numerous landfills or, even worse, it soils the ocean. This leads to the deaths of millions of animals and destroys our ecosystem by polluting the water. Moreover, a lot of CO2 as well as other dangerous gases are produced while manufacturing the plastic packaging etc, as well as in the process of “recycling” or burning trash because there is no more space at the landfills.
From my point of view that it is an important issue, especially for young people, like us as EF students, because we want to enjoy our green planet our entire lifetime. For this reason we have to start today! It won’t change anything if we are not going to start with ourselves!
At this point I come to young Lauren Singer (26, NYC)
She was an Environmental Studies major in college and has always been interested in the environment, but then she experienced some moments through which she became aware of how much trash she produces every day. That led to the decision for Lauren to live a zero waste lifestyle.
On her blog http://www.trashisfortossers.com/p/the-steps.html the young women explains that “To me, Zero Waste means that I do not produce any garbage. No sending anything to landfill, no throwing anything in a trash can, nothing. However, I do recycle and I do compost”.
It sounded definitely far-fetched for me in the first moment and I guess most of you would think the same now, but, according to Lauren Singer, there are only two steps needed to attempt a zero waste lifestyle. The first step is to evaluate, which means that we all should be more aware of the impact we have on the trash that is sent to the landfill every day. Furthermore, we should ask ourselves every day if we really need all this stuff to be happy., or if we would rather be even more happy by protecting our environment. Ok I can see that this sounds pretty idealistic. Anyway in my personal opinion is that this is a good start to at least begin thinking about the trash-issue our generation will have to deal with in the near future.
The second step Lauren mentions on her blog is transition, which means we should start to downsize and properly dispose of the unnecessary things. You need to be creative and start making your own toothpaste, for example, or start with easy actions like using a glass bottle to refill with water or taking your own bag to the grocery store instead of buying a new plastic bag every time.
To put it in a nutshell, the intention of my article was to create interest for a zero waste lifestyle and first of all to make you as EF students more aware of the importance of reducing our waste. I have to admit that I wouldn’t be mentally strong enough to stop buying make-up, which unfortunately, is mostly packed in plastic. Nevertheless, I am sure we can have an positive impact only by facing the fact that trash is a problem which we need to be aware of in our daily life.