What's It like to Live Zero Waste?

 

Linden Andersen is a student at the University of Victoria, who was born and raised on the island and is completing her third year of studies in linguistics. An inspiration to many around her, she is currently partaking in a compassionate project with the ultimate goal of living zero waste. Here we present some insight into how it all started, and what it’s like to be a part of this inspiring community.

 

When did it all start and how?

YouTube! I was watching tiny home videos, which eventually turned into zero waste videos. Two minutes into Bea Johnson’s TEDx talk, I decided to try it out, and I haven’t looked back since. I started with the first thing I had to buy: groceries. From there, I would wait until items needed replacing, then I would either replace them with a zero waste option, or realize they were superfluous.

 

What has been the biggest challenge of this project?

Finding secondhand clothes. I’m not much for browsing; I like to be as efficient as possible when I shop. So, buying only secondhand clothing has been frustrating, because I can go to a thrift store several times and find nothing that I like and that fits.

 

What are some annoying moments of going zero waste? What are the most enjoyable moments?

It’s made me hyper aware of waste, which is good and bad. You start to really notice the amount of unnecessary packaging, and you have all of these statistics in the back of your mind—it can get quite frustrating and upsetting.

The enjoyable moments of zero waste are plentiful! I love that, through reducing my waste, I’ve learned so much about things I never gave much thought to previously. Having nothing to throw away after I’ve been shopping is very satisfying. It’s made my life simpler, not having a bunch of different products, and understanding all the ingredients in things I now buy. Having the goal of zero waste ensures that I am always looking for better ways to do or buy things. It’s made me more conscious of where my food is coming from, and keeps me supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs. Also, I love the look of my kitchen cupboards, where everything is contained in glass. The food itself is much prettier than packaging.

 

How do you stay motivated?

Surprisingly, motivation isn’t something I need to work at. When I initially decided to try this out, I almost expected myself to quit or give up, but making efforts to reduce waste leads me to learn more, which makes me want to go further in my efforts.

 

 

What do you think stops many people from becoming zero waste?

For one, not everyone has the resources. In Victoria, we are lucky to have loads of bulk options and local shops that carry sustainable products, but that isn’t the case in every town. I also think that the lifestyle change seems drastic because garbage is concomitant with the lifestyle of our culture. Especially for younger generations, buying everything in a package is what we are accustomed to, and we don’t think much about what happens to plastic after the garbage truck takes it away.

 

Can you share a common misconception about it?

People think it’s inconvenient or time consuming, but unless I am looking for something fairly specific, I rarely have to venture far to find packageless things. I haven't found that shopping package free has taken any more time or been more inconvenient than regular shopping.

 

Do you actively recommend people to join you in this heroic challenge?

I’ll bring it up if it’s relevant to a conversation, but I don’t tend to tell people to go zero waste unless they express that they are interested. And if they do, I try to be helpful and encouraging.

 

What is your word of advice for people pondering the idea of becoming zero waste?

Don’t worry about being perfect or changing overnight—it will take some time! And I would recommend joining or starting a Facebook group (or another information sharing space) where people in your local community can ask or give advice on how to find package-free items, or other related information.

 

Do you follow any blogs, instagram accounts, or people that you recommend following?

Yes, loads! Zero Waste Home and Going Zero Waste are both blogs and amazing resources for recipes and zero waste solutions.

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As you can see, going zero waste is a rewarding challenge at our fingertips. Like Linden, many of us have the means and the ability to reduce our carbon footprint, so why not do it? I encourage you to start slowly, following Linden’s footsteps, and see where this initial experiment takes you!

If you decide to fully commit to this conscientious venture, I invite you to visit Victoria’s first 100% zero waste store that recently opened in Chinatown, West Coast Refill! Additionally, here is a link to a list of zero waste solutions in Victoria, including stores where you can buy by bulk (featuring various tea shops), restaurants that let you use your own containers for take-out, and stores that offer vegan, gluten free cosmetics!

Let us know in the comments about your experience as a zero-waster or additional questions you may have as a potential zero-waster!