The political idea of zero waste was popular a few years ago, with countries, industries and communities committing to going zero waste. The San Francisco initiative defines it as “sending nothing to landfill or incineration”. This should work by preventing the creation of more waste, and redirecting garbage to appropriate recycling circuits. Despite official good will, the initiatives largely failed to ever be implemented.
In the universe of liberal well-off consumers and workers, the concept of zero waste means not putting anything into the garbage, and limiting was goes to recycling. The French Messiah Bea Johnson, who lives in the USA, affirms that her family of four produces less than 500ml of yearly waste, while the young Lauren Singer affirms achieving a similar goal.
The whole project sounds to good to be true: buy un-packaged only, refuse whatever is package, buy and sell on the second-hand market, compost and recycle… And you’ll achieve the glamorous life of a pinterest-y all-white appartment, where you use almost no plastic and live healthily ever after with a life full of experiences (Johnson’s teary conclusion).
If you like these alternative, eco-friendly trends, I recommend losing a bit of time on checking this project out. I’ll expand my thoughts on this topic in later posts. Coming from a place where I was raised to recycle every little thing, and where we no pay 2.50chf (about 2$50 !) for a 35l garbage bag, you will get why I already try to limit my waste production. I will also expand on the dissonance between the perfectly curated apartments of these gurus, the high-standing cars and the supposed absence of produced waste: where do all the crappy broken objects go? Where did the mismatched collection of jam jars go?
Image: H. P. Brinkmann (detail)