The zero-waste lifestyle is popular among those who are looking to live more sustainably, but its not a realistic option for everyone. These pros and cons can help you determine if a zero-waste lifestyle would work for you.
Pro: Reducing Waste Helps The Environment
The most obvious reason for living zero-waste is that although it has negative aspects, reducing your waste helps the environment. Single-use items are so common that most people probably don’t even recognize a problem with how much trash they create.
Switching out single-use items for reusables and eliminating food waste are great ways to be more sustainable, but despite being beneficial to the environment zero-waste may not be the best choice for everyone.
Con: It Puts Pressure On Individuals
I’m a big believer that every change starts with the actions of a few people, so I have a lot of respect for those who are able to commit to a zero-waste lifestyle.
With that being said, the responsibility and burden should not fall solely on them. Industries such as fast fashion and fossil fuels are the biggest contributors to waste and emissions, but somehow consumers are still blamed for supporting them.
While it is our responsibility to be conscious of our waste, you shouldn’t feel guilty if a zero-waste lifestyle isn’t an option for you.
Blaming the consumer is a way to distract from the fact that they have the capacity to significantly lower emissions and wasted materials, but they value money over the environment and safety of workers.
However, what’s worse than companies placing blame is when individuals persecute each other, which is very common among zero-waste influencers. The movement itself has an “all or nothing” approach that causes people to feel guilty when they aren’t 100% zero-waste.
Pro: It Encourages Mindfulness
In my opinion one of the biggest benefits of zero-waste is that it forces you to be more mindful. Some people may see this as a downside, because it requires you to plan ahead but I think that’s the best way for everyone to reduce their waste.
Mindfulness is something you can use to be sustainable whether or not you’re living zero-waste. Planning meals ahead of time and bringing reusables when you’re shopping are two big part of a zero-waste lifestyle that anyone can start doing.
Con: Its Not Accessible To All Communities
This con is true for sustainability is general, but especially for zero-waste. Zero-waste living can be really expensive to start out, and typically relies on shopping at specialty stores.
For example, buying in bulk is one way to get your food without plastic packaging, but food deserts are common in poor areas which usually have a surplus of cheap fast food, and very few health stores with bulk products.
The sad truth is that zero-waste is not an option for everyone, and this is yet another reason why we have to place the blame on the large corporations and oppressive systems, rather than the individuals.
Even though there are less expensive ways to reduce waste, that’s often not a priority for people who struggle to afford necessities in the first place.
Being eco-friendly does not only mean focusing on your own environmental footprint, but recognizing the intersectionality of the issues and advocating for those who experience ecological tragedies at a disproportionately higher rate.
If you do decide to try out zero-waste living, remember not to get discouraged by small mistakes. While I think its better to take smaller steps to a sustainable lifestyle, some people may find that jumping right into zero-waste will work best for them.
Feel free to share your experience in the comments if you’ve ever tried zero-waste! Thank you for reading, have a lovely day.