What does Zero Waste mean?

I’m the radical sitting next to you. I do things the American populace would consider crazy and yet nobody seems to notice. I slide by without a peep from the authorities. What am I talking about?

I live a completely Zero Waste lifestyle. It’s hard to believe and you should see the reactions I get from others. Everyone goes wide-eyed, then the judging starts, and the skepticism. I don’t look like a radical, I’m not tied to a tree or wearing hemp clothes. I’m just an average looking guy.

To explain all this let’s start with what Zero Waste means. The concept isn’t about throwing things away, like most think, it’s about sustainability and recycling. We are all consumers and will continue to be, and the goal isn’t to get rid of consumption but to modify it. To create a system where everything we use ends up someplace other than a landfill.

Largely, this means recycling the hell out of everything, and a lot can be recycled. In fact, one of the most powerful things you can do right now is go look up your trash company’s rules for recycling. I guarantee you will find new things to recycle. In the world of waste, the trash companies are, generally speaking, the most advanced green groups you will find.

It’s such a simple move and yet so powerful, which helps because the next step is the hardest thing you will have to do. Eat better. I’m serious. As a man obsessed with trash I can tell you that the majority of our waste comes from our food. It’s also true that the more waste you create the worse you are eating.

After all, a McDonald’s happy meal comes with like 16 things to throw away, while a homemade sandwich with an apple create very little waste. An obvious comparison but you will find that as you dig into this, eating healthier and healthier, it just gets better…and tastier, cheaper, greener, more social, and more interesting.

Don’t take my word for it, just go out and try it. It will be one of the greatest things you ever do and also get you nearly to Zero Waste. Give it some time and you will reduce your waste by 90% or more. After that, all that is left is a lot of minor things. Like finding a restaurant that serves healthy food in recyclable containers or where can buy a recyclable toothpaste tube.

That’s it, pretty simple and yet so radical. Like I said in the beginning, I don’t look weird but I am possibly the weirdest person you know. I’ve been trying this stuff for three years now and I’m not living in a treehouse yet. I blend in completely with the normal folk and yet I’m a citizen of the future. I live in a sustainable way in a normal American household. Now if we can only get 300 million people to try this…


Farmers Market are as Zero Waste as you can get (and the healthy too!). (photo: Natalie Maynor)

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  1. you are not crazy, this modern society, with all of it’s insanity producing trash that you have to become hung up on about in this modern society, now that is just crazy! i myself would not even become hung up about a container that was thrown away last week that i did not mean to throw away, and i now want to go landfill hunting for last week’s container, that i accidentally tossed away here in texas, all because our modern society full of insanity producing trash, makes me feel like i have to bother with something that in a non garbaged world, i would not even have to freaking bother with, if it weren’t for our modern societied garbaged out world, that freaking makes all of us still developing human monkeys, even have to freaking bother with! all of this modern garbage bothers me so much, that i just want to go work in a landfill even here in texas, and go dig through all of the landfill garbage, and make a show about all of this insanity producing garbage in today’s world, because all of this garbage in today’s modern world makes me want to break through all of the landfill gates, and go make a freaking landfill digging show about all of this freaking garbage! no, you are not crazy at all. living in this modern garbage producing world, makes all of still developing monkeys crazy! it’s not like the devil may care attitude landfill owners really care if we all broke through the landfill gates anyways, because once the garbage is dumped in the landfill it’s pretty much there for the taking! it’s not like the landfill owners really care about their landfills anyways, so why does it really matter if all of us just go and dig through it all just for the hell of it?! chocolate cheery ice cream container and a cheese ball wrapper…..landfill owners should just open the gates,and let all of us dig through whatever the hell we all want too! an open gate landfill policy!

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