Did you know that the average US household produces 4.4 pounds of trash a day? That adds up to over a ton per household per year!
The statistics are scary, but the solution doesn’t have to be. Going zero waste is one of the most impactful and rewarding decisions you can personally make for the health of the planet.
But — you might be thinking, it’s impossible to go completely zero waste! And you’d be right. The reason why isn’t your or my or anyone’s fault.
It’s because we’re part of a linear economy — one designed to take raw materials, create goods for the market, and then dispose of the goods when they wear out or are no longer useful. It’s a “take-make-waste” model, and it’s why most of what we buy is destined for the landfill.
Fast fashion is an example of the linear economy at work. Cheaply made clothes are mass-produced and sold at rock-bottom prices. Fast fashion is poor quality and the majority of it ends up in thrift stores or landfills.
A circular economy, by contrast, is one that prioritizes careful and thoughtful use of raw materials. It has three main goals:
Our leaf leather products align with the goals of a circular economy. They are:
You can see how different the two economies are. Most companies providing consumer goods operate in a linear economy and make it next to impossible for us to buy waste-free products.
The good news is that you can still make a difference!
Zero waste is not an all or nothing venture. It’s a movement designed to progressively reduce the waste you create — from food waste to household waste to energy waste and beyond.
Adopting a zero waste lifestyle sends a clear message to companies that you are committed to shopping with the health of the planet in mind.
And as more people make the commitment to go zero waste, companies will adapt and change practices to align with a circular economy.
The biggest mistake people make when trying to adopt new behaviors is setting unrealistic expectations. Change is hard! Don’t make it more difficult by trying to do everything at once.
The best way to make sure your new zero waste habits stick is by taking small, daily steps. When you approach new habits this way, your daily successes build on each other. As you celebrate your daily wins, your motivation to continue skyrockets, and your habits become automatic.
Just like you automatically brush your teeth every day, you’ll soon be grabbing your water bottle every time you leave the house. Without even thinking about it.
Use these strategies to ensure success:
Now that you’ve set yourself up for zero waste success, take a look at the next steps below and decide what you can do in the next month.
Excuse me, what? Yep— that’s right. To eliminate your trash, you need to know what’s in it! This is called a trash audit.
Here’s how to do it:
Your zero waste kit is a surefire way to set yourself up for success outside the home. Having zero waste swaps with you will help you avoid the dreaded single-use plastic.
Your kit should be easy to grab on your way out, so get a basket or large tote bag and fill it up.
Some ideas for your zero waste kit:
If you're near Denver, Colorado drop by Zero Market in the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora or inside the Edgewater Public Market.
They're one of our favorite wholesale partners. They say "good things come in no packages" 😃. Check out their site Zero Market to help build your zero waste kit.
Making your own products to eliminate waste is a great way to remove yourself from the linear economy.
Most of the household goods we buy, from food to cleaning products to skincare, are packaged in single-use plastic. Some of it is recyclable— if you’re lucky enough to live in an area that will accept it.
Many products are easy to make and only require a little time up-front. Plus— they’ll save you money in the long run!
Here are our favorite zero waste DIYs:
We don’t often think about energy waste, but the truth is, the resources we use to power our energy grid are finite.
Part of a zero waste lifestyle should include a commitment to reducing the amount of energy we use. And just like making your own household products, you’ll save money!
Here are some ideas to reduce energy waste:
Lower your thermostat a few degrees in the winter.
If you’re looking for maximum impact ideas for a zero waste lifestyle, eliminating food waste is where it’s at.
Did you know that up to 40% of food in the United States is wasted? And accounts for 16% of methane emissions from landfills? Every little step we take toward reducing our food waste is a step in the right direction.
It may seem overwhelming to know where to start, though. Use this guide to help you chip away at it.
Remember that linear economy we’re living in? Well now’s the time for all of us to do our part to advocate for a circular economy.
Companies need to hear from conscious consumers. If you have a favorite product but it comes with too much plastic packaging, write a short email message to the company and ask them to find alternatives. If you need help getting started, check out this guide here.
Some other ideas for zero waste activism:
Remember that going zero waste is a marathon, not a sprint. The steps above will help you avoid overwhelm. Start with a few easy zero waste swaps to gain confidence and momentum.
Make your habits automatic and sustainable, and soon zero waste will be your way of life.
Let’s save the planet together!