What is Zero Waste

So what is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is a concept whose main idea is to reduce the amount of waste we produce by using reusable items and things, just like they would be used in nature. The goal is to prevent waste from ending up in landfills or incinerators.

The international alliance Zero Waste International, which is promoting this concept, has proposed the following definitions for this term:

Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient, and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

In addition, the alliance fights to reduce the amount of hazardous waste and opposes its incineration or landfill. From a global perspective, the Zero Waste concept should help eliminate harmful emissions that pollute the land, water, or air that harm the planet, as well as the health of people, animals, and plants.

A bit of history

The term “Zero Defects” was first used by Toshiba in the early ’70s. They took a unique approach to the production of technology, which allowed them to achieve impressive results – one defect in a million items. This resulted in a decrease in the amount of waste since the number of defective products that had to be recycled was significantly reduced.

The term “zero waste” was first used publicly on behalf of Zero Waste Systems Inc. (ZWS), which was founded by chemist Paul Palmer in the mid-1970s in Oakland, California. The mission of the ZWS was to find a use for much of the chemical waste that the burgeoning electronics industry generates. They soon saw interest in the initiative and began accepting laboratory chemicals for free, which they resold to experimenters, scientists and companies. It is likely that the ZWS had the largest stock of laboratory chemicals in all of California, which they sold at half price. They also collected all the solvent produced by the electronics industry, filled it in small jars, and sold it as varnish thinner. ZWS has collected all used engine oils, filtered them, and resold them to oil players. ZWS has also initiated many other projects.

Since they were the only company of their kind, they became famous all over the world. Many magazine articles have been written about Zero Waste and several television shows have been produced.

The movement gained publicity and peaked in 1998-2002 and has since gone from theory to action, focusing on how the Zero Waste community is structured and behaved. The International Zero Waste Alliance website has a list of communities around the world that are actively promoting the zero waste approach at the national level.

One of the most popular is Zero Waste World and its European division, Zero Waste Europe.

The movement continues to grow today. Young people around the world are joining the Zero Waste Youth, which was founded in Brazil and expanded to Argentina, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the United States, and Russia. The organization works with local volunteers who run concept-based events to spread the idea of ​​“zero waste” consumption.

Rule of 5R – Practical Application of Zero Waste

Simply put, the whole concept of Zero Waste consists of five simple rules formulated by the famous Zero Waste activist Bea Johnson. These are the so-called 5R rules:

  1. Refuse
  2. Reduce
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycle
  5. Rot

Zero Waste starts with giving up unnecessary things. Use the things you already own to reduce consumption and conserve resources. Replace all disposables with reusable items, and instead of throwing things away, repair them! Surrender to recycle the rubbish that you have left, and from organic make compost.

Give up

The first rule of Zero Waste is to avoid garbage, don’t buy it. First of all, this means that it is worth shopping deliberately so that the unnecessary thing does not end up in the trash can later. That is why the concept of zero waste is so closely related to minimalism – you don’t buy unnecessary things – you don’t harm the planet – you have freedom from unnecessary things and more time for the main things.

Ditching the unnecessary will save you most of the rubbish. Learning to say no is very important at this stage. Say no to plastic-packed goods. Say no to free gifts and souvenirs. Say no to the one-off! Find the strength not to participate in this wasteful and non-ecological cycle!

The more we accept disposable items that will inevitably end up in landfills, the more demand we create for these volatile items.

These items are often cheap, of poor quality, and many people buy them because of the low price. The problem is that these items were manufactured using chemicals and materials of questionable origin, which means they can release toxins! In addition, things are often cheap due to the use of child labor in the production process.

In the end, these substandard items will cost you even more than buying the original quality product, as most of them will quickly break down and you will have to look for replacements.


  • Products in supermarkets are often more carefully packed, especially during the production and delivery stages. Give preference to purchases in the market or in small stores, especially since individual sellers are often more loyal to non-standard customer needs.
  • Don’t take business cards or brochures, just take a picture of them with your phone. This way, you will have all the important information with you at any time, but you will not create unnecessary garbage.
  • Stop lugging everything that is bad into the house.

Reduce consumption

Every time you open the closet and see a pile of various clothes, you probably feel bad. Over the past year, start to get rid of clothes that you haven’t used in a year.

Almost all of us have many things at home that we never use. We didn’t even unpack some of them! Why is this happening? It’s all the fault of impulsive purchases. We saw something, we liked it, and that’s it, we bought it! But often the joy of shopping passes very quickly, and the product itself becomes another item in our home, which does not add any value to our life.

In this regard, it is important to reduce the uncontrolled consumption of goods so as not to get rid of them over time.

Reuse and Repair

The next step is to harm reusable items in your life. Now you can find, for example, reusable bags, eco bags for grocery shopping, and even an alternative to disposable plastic bags – small bags made of mesh or cotton for vegetables, fruits, and cereals. With reusable drinking straws and thermal cups, you can’t go wrong.

It is worth knowing once and for all that you have to buy disposable products over and over again. This, in turn, means that you are wasting money on what you throw away. It’s like throwing money in the trash! This action, at least, will have a lower carbon footprint than the production of single-use plastic.

Give your things a new lease of life: You probably have some upcycled items that you could just throw away. Buy things second-hand or hand-held on the Internet and remember: many things, you don’t even need to own, they can be rented (for example, clothes for events, books, goods for sports and leisure, tools or even cars.


If anything breaks, fix it yourself or have it repaired if possible.


Once you’ve given up on items, reduced your consumption, and started reusing reusable items, you have very little junk left. However, be sure to sort your trash so that these resources can be reused rather than sent to landfills.


The easiest way to organize compost is in a private house, but there are several solutions for an apartment as well. For home composting, you can use an electric kitchen composter, bokashi, vermicomposting, or a sink shredder. This way, your organic waste can be turned into useful plant fertilizer instead of just rotting in a landfill.


As you can see, Zero Waste is not such a difficult thing, however, the results can be impressive! In addition to the fact that you will not produce garbage (and, by the way, it can be up to several tons per year for one family!), You will also save great money by buying only what you need. According to various sources, adhering to the concept of zero waste, you can save up to 40% of your budget.

Join the modern movement, because it will benefit not only nature but also your wallet and mood!

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