Updated: Oct 13, 2020
These days we keep hearing about go green, go organic, go vegan, go zero, and whatnot. When such things are continuously said, a thought comes to the mind that these pro-environment people might tell us to stop living someday.
We understand it is a fact that humans are harming the environment, and each one of us is contributing to this assault. But then comes the phase of denial or we try to justify ourselves by the assumption that even if I or a certain individual becomes more environmentally conscious, still there will be millions of other people who are not. An individual's contribution will be negligible.
We understand that this thought is not completely wrong but we believe, that we already have so much on our plate, hence this extra burden of consciousness may not be possible for us. Also, there is a second thought that we are trying on our level but the government isn’t providing us the correct infrastructure. These two lines of thought is completely correct as one individual's contribution hardly makes any difference and also it is our right to get proper infrastructure.
Now, let’s take a step back and try to understand what these pro-environment fanatics are trying to put forward. We are living in a century where we can communicate with our friends/relatives, who are living thousands of kilometers away, by just a click of phone. Today, we can receive indigenous beautiful art pieces at our doorstep without actually visiting the place.
All our convenience has come with a cost. A cost that is not just economical but a virtual cost to Earth. A cost that we are not directly accountable but indirectly we are.
So, if we become more mindful and conscious about our choices, this can help us reduce our accountability to mother Earth.
Now let’s look at this term Zero Waste. Another phrase that has created a buzz. If we look at the literal meaning of zero waste then it means someone who is not generating any waste. Is it really possible? How a person staying in a metro city can achieve this? If I go and look at my kitchen right now, zero waste is something that I can’t achieve even in my next life.
Anne Marie Bonneau stated “We may never reach the zero in “zero waste” but that’s no reason to take zero action.”
Her quote is really powerful, why are we worrying with the word zero and why are we afraid of trying. Is it our convenience that makes us feel, that oh I might have to give up on all my favourite things and convenience.
Let me tell you this, we are loaded with our unnecessary things these days, it would be the best option to start looking at those things. Like numbers of clothes in my cupboard, there are dresses or shorts that I haven’t worn for ages but while buying I thought I would wear them on some occasion or something else. Maybe I didn’t like the fit or maybe I didn’t like the colour, and they are just there in my cupboard. You can start by looking at your cupboard first.
Secondly, one thing which helps you to start a new day, a toothbrush. It is our daily personal hygiene need. An average person uses 3 to 4 toothbrushes a year. If we consider that a person uses 3 brushes in a year then in a lifespan of 70 years from age of 2, he/she will be using 204 brushes. We have 7.4 billion people living on this planet, imagine the number of toothbrushes used. The plastic toothbrush that we use takes approximately 400 to 500 years to degrade!! Imagine the condition of dumping sites and this is just one waste we are talking about. This waste can be completely avoided. There are amazing bamboo toothbrushes are available in the market. Yes, the bristles are still made up of plastic but we can reduce the plastic which is evident in body of toothbrush. The switch to bamboo toothbrush can mean you are contributing to zero waste. How can you contribute to zero waste more?; by encouraging more people to do this easy switch!
Also, for marketing and increase in sell, these toothbrush brands would be suggesting to switch to a new toothpaste in 3 to 4 months but I would suggest use it till your satisfaction. Those toothbrushes are fine and can be used for a year or more based on your use.
Using any product for a longer time contributes to zero waste. So choose the right products and choose something that lasts longer. You might have to spend a little more on the quality product but believe me, they cost you less on the maintenance and hence in the longer run.
I will be sharing more such switches in my next articles.
I would like to end this blog with another quote from Anne Marrie Bonneau “we don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly”.
Preeti Chauhan is an environmentalist, a Climate Reality Leader, a civil engineer with 7+ years of a successful corporate career. She is a zero-waste practitioner and has an undying love for mountains. Her keenness to find different solutions for the Himalayan environment issues, she studied Sustainable Environment Management from SIES IIEM, Mumbai and Entrepreneurial Leadership from Naropa Fellowship, Ladakh. She believes beyond Reduce, Reuse, Recycle we also need to push for Refuse, Repurpose, Rot and Recover to achieve sustainable zero waste life. Currently, she is founder at Little Green World.