Zero Waste and Privilege

It’s not a consumer trend.

Zero waste and low waste living is currently a hot topic. It's true that there seems to be a shift and that everyone wants to do their part in creating less waste and living more sustainable lives for future generations. Awareness is growing day by day and with that businesses are jumping on the zero waste bandwagon. And don’t get me wrong I understand that businesses are about their bottom line, and if they are producing a zero waste or low waste product I’m all for it. My problem is that zero waste living is not symbiosis with consumerism. Suddenly low waste living is marketed in a way that if you don’t have the latest low waste gadgets – think reusable straws and moon cups then you aren’t doing your part. This is just straight bull shit. Eco Warrior Princess said it perfectly “one of the core beliefs of sustainability is to UNPLUG from consumerism – buy less, save more, grow your own food, repair rather than replace” .Humble solutions are the best ones. However the new capitalism version of environmentalism suggests that one can buy in to the movement without making any real changes.

Not everyone can afford to buy fancy reusables, mooncups or even shop in a way that’s zero waste all the time. But to make people feel excluded from an issue so important and which is nonexclusive is wrong. The Zero Waste movement is about empowering and sharing knowledge with everyone to take up their own ways of reducing waste within their means. As a zero waste community it is our responsibility to ensure we support all.

If you are starting out on zero waste journey and don’t know where to start, here are a few of my tips.

1.     Don’t buy anything just yet. Start with the small stuff, like saying no to straws and other single use plastics, and buy produce without packaging at the supermarkets - look for plastic free alternatives to what you already buy.

2.     Do a little research – greenwashing is alive and well and unfortnutley we have to double check brands integrity. If you need help or advise ask someone in the zero waste community

3.     Get involved with a zero waste community – all over the country there are cool communities, both online and not. In Hamilton we have just started Zero waste meet ups, so keep an eye out for the next event Hamiltonians! There is also Zero Waste in NZ Facebook page.

4.     Prioritise what you want to cut out first and go from there. You can’t change everything overnight so start with the viable things – reusable shopping bags or cutting back takeaways.

On the 14th of March, we held the first ever Zero Waste Meet Up here in Hamilton! It was such an awesome night filled with discussion and zero waste ideas. We had a great turnout, with over 20 people, many of which were young and enthusiastic. We are hoping to make these a regular occurrence, so if you are interested in coming to one, get in touch! Also if you haven't popped into Go Eco yet, make sure you check it out!

Be encouraged!