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Minimalist lifestyle: what does zero waste mean?

Every day we use huge amounts of products we believe we can't do without. In the search for the best quality, we buy a variety of similar items, use each of them a bit and then conclude it was not the best choice, or outright a harmful one, or maybe we hear a better product hit the shelves soon afterwards. We often rush to buy it – and the process starts again. The power of the omnipresent media and the overload of information, which can often be inconsistent and confusing, make it truly difficult for us to make rational and informed choices. Fortunately, more and more people see uncontrolled consumerism as an issue and blame it for the pollution of the environment and its consequences. All around the world people keep coming forth with ideas on how to try and save the planet with small steps taken at one's own home. One of the new ideas whose popularity still keeps growing is the zero waste movement.

It is a philosophy of controlling the amount of waste one produces, believed to have been started by Bea Johnson, whose Zero Waste Home blog has quickly turned into a movement and became the way of life for thousands of people worldwide. We also have the Polish Zero Waste Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Zero Waste), founded by Aleksandra Niewczas on 11 March 2017, who thus gave the legal personality to an existing Facebook group.
"Zero waste" can refer both to keeping the amount of debris we produce to a minimum and to taking every effort to minimise wasting resources as much as possible. Regardless how you look at it, it all boils down to living a life that generates as little waste as possible. It is a philosophy that tells us to use up every fully usable product completely, and segregate all auxiliary or protective items – such as packaging products – for later reuse. Zero waste also means reusing all that can be reused, and trying to fix things instead of disposing of them and replacing them with a brand new item. All in all, the philosophy seems to be nothing else than a sustainable approach to daily life, founded on the feeling of responsibility for one's own choices and actions. The overwhelming consumerism – the massive quantities of new products that make their way to the market before the consumers have used up their previous versions – might seem to be an impenetrable barrier for new enthusiasts of zero waste life. Our countless habits, which we have acquired since the ubiquitous plastic came into popular use, look impossible to get rid of. It can be truly difficult indeed to remember to take the same cotton bag with you every time you go shopping, or to carry your reusable metal straw or coffee mug with you wherever you go. In spite of that, the continued rise in popularity of the movement that seems to be virtually impossible to implement and utopian by assumption at the first glance is a fact one cannot deny. Does the secret of its success lie in the clear guidelines and simple assumptions, which sound impractical only superficially and eventually turn out to merely require acquiring new habits?

Every effort to reduce waste production deserves approval. Societies must not look away from this issue any more. In the case at hand, the zero waste philosophy offers an optimal and well-balanced approach to everyday routines. We are going to write a bit more about living by its commandments and how the packaging industry can move towards "zero waste" in our next story in two weeks. Enjoy!

ecolife, green packaging, cosmetic, ecofriendly