You have done your research, you have taken inspiration from people leading the zero waste movement and you are now making conscious efforts to switch to eco-friendly alternatives. However, now you’re beginning to wonder whether your efforts are making an actual impact or not.
Pat yourself. The signs are good. The world is finally embracing the concepts championed by the movement and effects are beginning to show!
CIRCULAR ECONOMY TAKES THE LEAD
Apart from more individuals practising sustainability, multinational companies have started to embrace the movement as well. Stores and entire shopping centres dedicated solely to zero waste have sprung up in major cities. We are now seeing consumer goods and furniture sectors taking up the idea of the circular economy. Ikea recently announced that they would be 100% circular by 2030, and Lego is working on a plastic-free brick.
More companies adopting the idea of a circular economy has also rippled into creating more job opportunities. Reducing and recycling create jobs in rental, sharing businesses(e.g car-sharing, tool-rental), repair, tailoring and reuse businesses. This also supports local businesses and the money stays within the community instead of going into the pockets of big corporations.
IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENT
Our current culture of consumption is unsustainable. Extracting raw materials from natural resources requires large amounts of energy and causes pollution. While processing plastic takes even more energy and once they’re used, the goods are simply dumped in a landfill or destroyed in an incinerator.
However, the zero-waste approach conserves natural resources and reduces pollution from extraction, manufacturing and disposal. The awareness from the movement has also helped in busting some myths. Studies have shown that every year over 400 million tons of waste is produced and only 9% of it gets recycled.
China stopped taking the world’s plastic trash and effectively broke the recycling industry. This helped people destroy the idea that recycling is helpful and passed the message that it’s not an effective solution for our global trash problems. Reusing and reducing the amount of waste you accumulate is the best way to reduce the amount of waste generated globally.
At the same time, the UN Environment and leaders around the world are working towards the future of global consumption and reducing the rising levels of waste. There are many challenges but the changes are real and transformative. Changes take time and it’s never too late to join the movement.