How to promote zero waste
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10 Ideas On How To Promote Zero Waste In Your Community

People choose zero-waste living for many different reasons. The zero-waste approach confronts all types of waste, including food waste, plastic waste, textile waste, and much more. It focuses on generating less waste to minimize harmful environmental impacts. Individual actions toward zero-waste living are essential. However, its impact grows as more people get involved. So you're in the right place if you find yourself asking, "how to promote zero waste?"

On a larger scale, going zero waste is not only to keep waste out of landfills but to redesign our entire ecosystem. We can all play our part in promoting the zero-waste lifestyle. But first, we should explore what we are promoting. 

What does zero-waste mean? 

Different groups define zero waste in various ways. Let’s look at a few examples as defined by some municipalities and organizations:

  • According to The United States Conference of Mayors, zero waste adopts a set of principles that recognizes a hierarchy of material management as follows: extended producer responsibility, recycling, composting (repair, reuse and donate), landfill waste as disposal, and so on. 
  • Zero Waste International Alliance defines zero waste as the conservation of all resources through responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and without discharges to water, air, or land, threatening the environment or human health. 
  • The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) refers to zero waste as efforts to reduce Solid Waste generation waste to nothing, or as close to nothing as possible, by minimizing excess consumption and maximizing the recovery of Solid Waste through Recycling and Composting.
  • According to The San Franciso California Community, Zero waste means that we send zero discards to the landfill or high-temperature destruction. But instead, we design products and use them according to the principle of highest and best use and the waste reduction hierarchy: Prevent Waste, Reduce and reuse first, and Recycle and Compost. 
  • Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District defines zero waste as simply a "no-waste," sustainable approach to managing the production and life cycle. 
  • The County of Hawai’i defines zero waste as a way of living that promotes the goal of reducing the number of materials we throw out and instead reincorporating the by-product of one system to be used for another system. According to the County of Hawai’i, there is no such thing as waste in nature. 
  • Guam defines zero Waste as a holistic approach to addressing the problem of unsustainable resource flows. Zero Waste encompasses waste eradicated at the source through producer responsibility and product design and waste reduction strategies down the supply chain, such as reuse, recycling, and composting. For example, government agencies and communities that introduce zero-waste programs aim to move from long-term waste management through incineration and disposal to more value-added resource recovery systems to build sustainable local economies ultimately. 

Read more: What is Zero Waste? And the Zero Waste Movement All About?

10 ways to promote zero waste in your community 

There are simple ways you spread awareness and inspire others to embark on the zero-waste journey. Here are some simple ideas you can implement within your community to get more people involved in zero-waste living and help grow awareness of why zero waste is important

1. Start with leading by example

Start with leading by example

Many times, telling people what to do may not be convincing enough. Leading by example is a powerful way to influence those around you. 

Start by making little changes and sticking to them. For example, you can replace your plastic bottles with reusable water bottles. Get rid of your paper towels and replace them with reusable paper towels. Ditch single-use items and go for options you can reuse. Take a tote bag to the mall instead of using the plastic one. Compost all kitchen food scraps and so on. 

By living zero waste, you can prevent the trash from ending up in the landfill and also save money. By the end of the month, you can show your family and friends how much you’ve been able to save by going zero-waste. This is also a great way to work towards your personal zero-waste goals. 

2. Join a local community garden

Join a local community garden
Photo by Steve Adams on Unsplash

Local community gardens are cultivated pieces of land owned by a group of people individually or collectively. This means that individuals within a community can come together to grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables for their consumption.

Local gardens encourage individuals to grow their own food, which has multiple benefits. Apart from responsible food production within the community, individuals have access to fresh food, improving food security. It also increases the biodiversity of plants and animals, reduces neighborhood waste, and allows you to support the local economy. 

3. Speak to local companies about the effects of plastics

Man holding stop plastic pollution sign
Photo by Thirdman

Are there any local stores or restaurants that majorly use plastic utensils and plastic grocery bags? You can reach out to these companies and politely address their plastic use.

Plastic waste contributes massively to greenhouse gases. It could also creep into our waterways and lands, poisoning sea animals and affecting human health. You can draft a letter and send them to local companies explaining the dangers of plastic use. 

Alternatively, you could book an appointment with the owner or manager of the store to speak about it. Tell your local supermarket to stock refillable options. Ask local restaurants to offer reusable and returnable takeaway packages. Encourage companies delivering goods to switch to eco-friendly packaging. You can also ask your local restaurants and bars to stock eco-friendly toilet paper and zero-waste hand soaps in their restrooms. 

Sharing recycling facts and facts about plastic pollution can help others understand the impact of these changes and explain the environmental benefits of switching to zero waste—end by providing other alternatives to plastic.

4. Organize a zero-waste workshop

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Another way to spread the word about living zero waste is to host a workshop. One of the benefits of holding a workshop is that you can share your zero-waste tips and progress with a larger number of people in a single location within a short time. 

You can reach out to a local library to find out if they would love to set up a workshop with you. You can typically find the contact of those in charge by asking the library attendant. There are also businesses with like-minded people you can work with. You can simply reach out to them via email or phone number. 

But what will your workshop be about, you may be thinking? Several ideas can work well for a zero-waste seminar. Typically, you want to start by telling your audience what zero waste is and how they can reduce waste. Helping people understand the 4RS - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, why they are important, and how to put the principles into practice is a great place to start.

You can then proceed to hold classes on how to make items like zero-waste lotions, zero-waste lip balms, and DIY body scrubs, and the list continues. Or perhaps you can share a selection of sustainable living skills and offer ideas on how to learn and practice.

5. Organize a neighborhood clean-up 

Could your neighborhood do with a little spruce up? You can organize a neighborhood cleanup with some local people. Waste created by our communities could find its way into landfills and water systems, causing pollution. Worse still, it could poison animals, causing death. 

Organizing a community clean-up is a great way to reduce waste and establish a zero-waste mindset and culture in your community. You can get a group of friends and family members or enlist as many people in your community that are interested. If you live near the waste, you can also host a beach cleanup.

You will need to map out the different areas you want to clean. It is also important to plan to ensure things are done—plan for cleaning supplies and disposing of trash. You may need to call the local waste management facility within your community to pick up the trash when all the cleaning is done. 

6. Gather groups for zero-waste meetups

Another way to spread awareness and get people involved is to organize zero-waste meetups in your locality. You can choose a date and time and meet at any spot within the community, perhaps a cafe. 

Start by creating some buzz around the zero-waste program. You can use social media platforms like Facebook groups to build an online community of people interested in zero waste. Let your online community know the dates and times for the meetup. During the meetup, keep things as casual as possible. Socialize with them and discuss new ideas for more zero-waste, eco-friendly living. 

7. Speak as a guest in a town hall meeting

Going to a town hall meeting is one great way to promote zero waste and involve your local government. You get to meet a larger group of people within the community. You can listen to pressing issues within the community and speak on environmental matters. 

You may even be able to speak as a guest and get the opportunity to educate the public on reducing waste, recycling, and other ways to eliminate waste. However, to speak at a town hall meeting, you will need permission from your city hall. 

Our lists of some of the best plastic pollution quotes, nature quotes, and environment quotes can provide some talking points or help you set the scene. 

8. Initiate a petition 

Starting a petition is a great way to impact change. Whether it's a global or local issue. Perhaps there's a specific issue with waste in your neighborhood. You can create a petition and get people to sign it. You will need to start by choosing a platform. You could do an online petition, a written petition, or both. Whatever works for you. 

Ensure your petition focuses on the matters of your community with solid facts backed up by research. Make specific requests that can create change in your community. To get signatures, you can engage your family and friends, engage people one-on-one or promote them on social media platforms for wider coverage. You can also reach out to the press to get the word out. 

9. Get busy on social media

Social media is a fantastic tool for spreading the word about zero waste and connecting the movement's important messages with your connections and friends. 

Sharing a few important zero-waste messages and zero-waste quotes is a simple and low-effort way to start. You can also find a great range of zero-waste swaps, including everything from plastic wrap alternatives to ethical makeup selections to replace plastic film and all those plastic tubs, tubes, and bottles.

Sharing some of your favorite environmentally friendly products on social media helps more people understand they have options that pollute less and cause less environmental harm. 

Have a look at some of the best zero-waste influencers for more inspiration and ideas to get you started. 

10. Host a film night

Everyone loves movie night. You can choose to go as simple as a few good friends on the couch, through going all in, renting a screening room or projector complete with loads of zero-waste snacks. Another excellent and simple idea is to invite some friends over for a screening of films encouraging zero waste actions. 

Check out our selection of plastic pollution films and climate change documentaries, both of which might provide you with the starting point for the perfect zero-waste film night. 

Benefits of zero-waste living 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of waste every single day. Imagine how much waste ends up in landfills every year? 

Over the years, zero waste has become popular. Switching out those plastic jars for reusable ones, recycling old materials, and using environmentally friendly zero-waste products are some of the ways to live a zero-waste life. But what are the benefits of going zero-waste? Here are a few benefits of living zero waste. 

Encourages a healthier lifestyle 

A lot of unhealthy food comes in lots of packaging, which means more plastic. Most of them come in single-use plastic, which you can't recycle or reuse. 

One of the benefits of zero waste is that it encourages you to be more mindful of the type of food you buy and eat. It also encourages more food production and cooking. This improves your overall physical and mental health. 

Conserves natural resources 

Creating new products requires extracting raw materials, which leads to environmental issues like deforestation and pollution. Once consumers use the product, it is then dumped in landfills, and the cycle continues. 

However, zero-waste strategies involve turning discarded materials into new products. By recycling and reusing, manufacturers can conserve the resources that would otherwise go into creating virgin products and keep waste out of landfills. 

Reduces plastic pollution 

Many things end up in landfills. However, one of the most significant environmental pollutants is plastics. When plastics end up in landfills, they could take thousands of years before they degrade entirely. 

What's worse, plastics can leach toxic chemicals into the oceans and waterways, poisoning sea animals and destroying our biodiversity. 

Creates more jobs 

Zero waste can help create jobs and boost the Economy. Zero waste can create green jobs which recirculate continuously within the economy and prevent the wastage of resources. These jobs include collecting recyclable materials, local recycling, composting facilities, and so on. It will also encourage online thrift store businesses. 

Builds better communities 

Zero-waste helps to build better and stronger communities. Here's how. Thanks to zero waste, communities can pay attention to those in need by providing food, clothing, and shelter. This will ultimately increase the standard of living. 

Zero waste also allows people to eat healthier foods and lead healthier lifestyles. 

Final thoughts 

Getting people to produce less waste can get tedious. However, keep in mind that you need to give it some time. You may have people who are open to trying out more eco-friendly ways of living and others not so much. 

Nevertheless, the benefits of zero waste are enormous. Spreading the word can ripple out to your neighborhood, and nurture a zero-waste community.

By Jennifer Okafor, BSc.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

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