Zero Waste, Living with Less, The Buyerarchy of Needs

Living with Less Zero Waste

What is Zero Waste?

Basically Zero Waste is the act of not generating any waste that would end up in a landfill or incinerator. Examples: Cutting out all plastic, all things disposable, practicing composting, recycling, etc.  It sounds like a super difficult feat, but there are a lot of people who are totally committed and have gone almost completely Zero Waste. Such as these epic individuals:  Going Zero Waste  Trash is for Tossers, and  Nero-O Waste,

The definition established by Zero Waste International Alliance says that Zero Waste is at least 90% diversion of wasted materials from landfills and incinerators.

Zero Waste has been a concept for a long time. But only recently, it has picked up steam as a movement around the world. Shoutout to Bea!

For more history and background on Zero Waste, read this article or this one.  Super great reads!

Personally, I’m trying as hard as I can to get as close to Zero Waste as possible. However, I’m not planning to berate myself, or get defeated if it takes me a while to get there, or if I mess up from time to time. Life is a process and is busy and complicated and sometimes I might take the lazy, convenience-focused route because I’m a human who is sometimes lazy and convenience-focused.

But if more often I’m choosing a more sustainable and thoughtful way, I think that’s still progress! No matter the speed, I’m focused on getting better and to continue moving forward.  

I’m here to share the methods I’ve learned, tried and failed miserably on, or had wild success with regarding how to decrease waste and how to live more minimally and truly experience straight-up, raw, and magical life!

What do I mean by “living with less”?

To me living with less means not being consumed with consumerism.

Throwing a wrench in the cycle.

Appreciating what I have.

Taking a step back and not looking for value in things, but  instead in experiences, people, and life.

Sarah Lazarovic the genius Canadian illustrator sums it up with style and perfection in her Buyerarchy of Needs Hierarchy: use what you have, borrow, swap, thrift, make, buy.

I feel overwhelmed with the convenience, instant gratification culture we live in. It is SO EASY to buy brand new, triple-wrapped-in-plastic, delivered-to-your-doorstep-in-mere-days, things on things on things, without thinking twice. There are so many choices and brands and products, and it is just a snap to get any and all of them all the time. And don’t get me wrong–I get it. Life is busy. Bottom lines are tight. Time in a day is sparse (since we have to spend so much time working in order to keep up, and pay for rent, and make our car payment…. and buy more stuff of course!) I understand that convenience is well, convenient, and that because of the system we live in, it sometimes feels like we hardly have a choice. (Also, check out this rad vid called The Story of Stuff…Annie Leonard is a wise and amazing lady of passion and purpose and she explains all this really well!) I understand that sometimes with the bustle of life, we’re all just doing what we can to get by. BUT when it’s possible…being thoughtful about the amount of waste our consumerist-centric culture is producing and trying to reduce it…That’s progress! 

Use what you have: this is the essence of what I’m trying to do with my life. I hope to bring more thought and awareness into my current inventory of things to be able to utilize and make do.

Borrow/Swap: I feel that these two go hand in hand. Community sharing and caring–let’s bring it back! Here in Denver, there are a bunch of great organizations that are sharing platforms at their very essence: 

Free Cycle

Fluid Market

Denver Tool Library

Bikes Together

Denver Art Society

And there are many people around the WORLD who are so on board with this sharing mentality–listen to this TedTalk  by Rachel Botsman to put a little umph in your day!

Thrift: if you really need something, which we will from time to time, go to the Goodwill or your favorite thrift shop and look around (don’t forget to bring reusable bags though!) It sometimes takes a little longer than just ordering online or going to Target, but it is always a better deal, gives you a chance to practice the art of reusing, and usually whatever you buy has more originality, character and flair than another perfectly wrapped, new, boring, cookie-cutter item that you’d buy new.

Make: I truly enjoy tinkering around and making things whether it’s tending my garden, turning my compost pile, making body butter, or fermenting saurkraut (more on all this and more later.) But I get it–making your own stuff can be daunting! 

I’ll be sharing some easy recipes and how-to’s from food to beauty products to gardening tips in upcoming posts!

Buy: basically if you have exhausted all other options and still desperately need something (it’s funny how little we actually desperately need, but more on that later), then buy it. For example: I have yet learned to make my own underwear or toothbrushes and wouldn’t buy those used, so I do buy new versions of these. 

But the point is–if you can do without, do without.

Thanks fearless and thoughtful friends! Comment below on ways that you are able to keep your buying needs in the lower levels of the buyerarchy! Remember that you are AWESOME and I hope you have a wonderful, waste-free day!