The Zero Waste ConversationKate Stuart
Zero waste. It’s the go-to phrase of everyone who is trying to reduce their impact on the planet. Those aspiring to the zero-waste lifestyle aim to create as little waste as possible, looking to re-use, recycle, or compost before allowing an item to head to landfill. Many on the journey cite Bea Johnson, author of the 2013 publication Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Waste as a huge inspiration, and certainly her book really has helped change the hardcore consumer mindset of many who have read it. But for one week every year, it is ZeroWasteWeek, founded by Rachelle Strauss, that has created space for the conversation about “less” to expand and develop into the collective consciousness.
This year for #ZeroWasteWeek, we’d like to have a discussion about how “zero” our waste production can realistically be, and whether “low” waste or “low impact” waste as useful phrases might feel more achievable. Trying to produce no landfill waste when you have children, or are too time poor to cook from scratch, or have no package free shops close by, or crucially, do not have the disposable income available to purchase the items required to replace all the single use items that are usually, in the short term at least, much cheaper, can be a real struggle. There is an element of privilege to the zero waste journey, and that’s something else that we would do well to bring into the conversation.
We chatted with Thalassa Sauvalle de Rementeria and Charley Cross of Charlotte’s Cupboard, the UK’s first package free shop on wheels, based in Sussex and asked them about their feelings towards the term “zero waste” for our summer issue of No Serial Number Magazine. “We don’t actually use the term zero waste” they told us, “and [we] try our best not to use it when talking to our customers. We prefer to encourage our customers to do as much as they can and we hope that, rather than using a term that feels unattainable, by encouraging them to make small steps, in the long run, it will lead to greater change.”
This #zerowasteweek perhaps the focus for us all can be on all the small steps we can take together to reduce our waste, rather than the stories of people producing a jam jar of trash a year. By realizing that whatever we call the movement, all the small changes within it add up to big ones, when we work together, we can collectively feel the success of our individual actions. And perhaps in sharing our success stories, however small, we can inspire more people to do what they can, when they can and join us in this important conversation about the future of our planet.
Tell us the story of your journey to producing less waste by using the hashtag #NSNMagazine on social media – we’ll share your stories during #zerowasteweek!
Kate Stuart is an artist, writer and craftswoman based in the North East of England, specializing in up-cycling, quilting, zero waste living and painting.