OP-ED: Living a “Zero” Waste life

Klaire Brock, Photo Editor

I used to never think about how much trash I produced in one day but then I saw a video of a sea turtle having a straw removed from its nose. In that moment I decided I wanted to make a change in my life, to be a part of a change that would actually help the planet. After seeing that video I then started looking at the statistics and this made me realize that there is a big problem with how much waste we produce.

Most people never think about how much trash they make every day, from the straws from their Starbucks to how many plastic bags they use at a grocery store. The average person produces 4.6 pounds of trash each day and only 1.51 pounds of that  people actually recycle. America generate roughly 251 million tons of trash every year and that number continues to grow each day. Sadly there is 5.25 trillion pieces and counting of trash that is currently in the ocean. One of the main places our trash travels to is The North Pacific Ocean Gyre, or as most people know it as, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch. While there is a group called The Ocean Cleanup who are working toward cleaning the garbage patch up, it is a relentless task if no one is willing to take steps toward having less or no trash go into the oceans.

So what does Zero Waste mean? According to the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)“Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills or incinerators. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.” Basically it is being conscious about what we are consuming in products and how we dispose of the leftovers.

Living a zero waste life is a serious commitment in this day and age you have to be fully committed to this cause. Sometimes when you see the term Zero Waste it freaks you out since you think it means becoming a hippie and never producing a single piece of trash every again. But you don’t have to dive into the deep end right off the bat. For example instead of giving up all plastics, give up straws at sit down restaurants and then if you want to you can  bring your own reusable straw for all your drinks. There are some great ones that come is a small collapsible case that is easy to carry around.

While I may not be the best example for living a Zero Waste life I do strive to live a limited waste life. Although I try not to use straws, I use reusable water bottles instead of a new plastic one every time I need a drink and I try to limit how many plastic bags I use at grocery stores like bringing my own mesh veggie bags and opting for a brown paper bag instead of plastic. Although they do not have direct options to recycle in Stephenville there a locations around the campus that you can recycle and if you do feel up to it there is a recycling center in town.

A lot of people choose not to live a Limited Waste life because they don’t think that their trash would make a difference. But if every person thinks this way then no one will ever take a step to making a difference. You may not always remember to say no straw when you are at a restaurant or you may not recycle your plastic bottles but each time you do remember it does make a difference. This shift into either a Limited Waste or a Zero waste life won’t happen overnight but overtime these things will make a difference.

Change doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Go for small changes, go for the little wins. Know that the things you do will add up to have a bigger impact.