What is the Zero-Waste Movement?
I have to be honest. To write this blog post, and ultimately answer the question above, I had to do some digging. Yes, I was aware of the Zero-Waste community, its values and goals but I never looked closer into its origins, neither did I follow all of its rules. Being semi-aware I have been still recycling, limiting the plastics in my household or taking my own bag with me to do groceries. It just felt like an obvious choice not something tagged on the movement itself. However, attending the Zero Waste expo in my city and researching couple of websites around this topic made me realize there is SO much more to it, and the spread of the movement slowly creeping into my own country amazes and inspires me to do more.
It is quite tricky to define the 'place and date' of the birth of Zero-Waste movement but the term was coiled by Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) and reached its peak publicity between 1998 and 2002. It has been originally established to share the awareness of the economic and social benefits that can be gained if we treat waste as a resource upon which we can build better employment and business opportunities. Zero-Waste movement is about reducing plastic and thus helping our environment, protecting its from further damage, BUT it also promises to produce tangible economic benefits. How? It reduces demand for raw materials, energy and water and with the increasing price of oil and gas, it can really boost the nations' economy. Extracting natural resources is costly so re-using what we already have seems to be the best shot. It became known as a circular model of economy and starts to get increasing attention from the business leaders and big companies worldwide.
Recycling and reusing processes all require people that will take number of activities associated with this movement. That involves collecting, sorting and preparing waste before processing it further down the manufacture lane as well as jobs in composting, repair shops, reuse centers or designing improved products from recycled materials. With a rising number of industries that rely on recyclable materials, this can create a powerful employment niche with new jobs created together with this demand. According to a 2012 study by the European Commission 400.000 jobs can be created in Europe only if we adopt the current EU policies. The new targets that member states will have to meet as of 2018 are as follows:
Can we reach these numbers? Well, it is entirely up to us. There was something said on the Zero Waste expo that really stuck with me. And that is that no law is powerful enough if it does not take people to follow it. Yes, there is number of policies and regulations that aim to hold people and business responsible for the damage they are causing but it is really down to the green moral area of each one of us to make better decisions everyday and contribute to the greater change that can ultimately save our future. Zero-Waste Movement is all about these decisions. It is more than just what we can find on Pinterest or Instagram in the form of new eco ideas for products, cosmetics, travel mugs, clothing etc. or pictures of waste collected in a jar. It is more than a fashion, a trend or a lucrative business for some of its advocates. It is simply about living smartly and consciously. Being interested in what happens to our Earth, what are the consequences of our actions and what can we do alleviate them. It is seeing bigger picture like economic benefits, employment opportunities and it is about changing a social paradigm. From ME to WE. And from acting as we lived in the bubble to fully acknowledging the threat our world is facing right now.
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