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Busted: 3 Myths About Zero Waste

So much of zero waste is about community. That doesn’t just mean sharing products and reducing waste; it’s also about sharing knowledge and helping people explore different ways of embracing a zero waste lifestyle.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about zero waste that came up in a recent interview we did with Alex Furey, founder of Zero Waste London and Zero Waste Mindset, two organisations that promote and share events and knowledge about zero waste. Read on to split the fact from the fiction.

Myth #1: It’s impossible to become truly zero waste

Especially when you’re just starting out, but even if you’ve been reducing waste for years, it can seem like a never-ending battle. Packaging and waste are so deeply ingrained in our commercial societies that it can seem impossible to actually achieve true zero.

It might be that you need to reframe your outlook. Alex offers an alternative way of looking at a zero waste lifestyle. 

“My concept of zero waste has changed over the last year,” Alex explains. “I think of it more as a mindset. It’s about starting to look at zero waste with the end goal in mind, trying to look at everything we do, everything we use and buy, from the starting point of: what’s going to be the end product? What’s going to be leftover? What’s going to be the end result of everything we’re doing?”

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Becoming zero waste can feel like a hopeless task when your goal is to produce no waste in your daily life. You will automatically focus on all of the waste you do produce right now and think that there’s no way you can get rid of it all.

Instead, take Alex’s advice. Look at each individual product and answer those questions he outlined. Taking it one step at a time and thinking constructively about what you could do with those leftovers, where they can be reused or donated or recycled, makes it feel all that more achievable.

As Alex said, “the notion of waste is actually just unrealised or unrecognised value.”

Myth #2: You can’t live a zero waste lifestyle on a budget

With zero waste becoming more popular in recent years, brands and companies have started packaging up their own ranges of zero waste products. These can be great and incredibly useful for people who want to make those changes – but it’s certainly not the only way to be zero waste

Unfortunately, the rise in these kinds of products has made people think that the zero waste lifestyle is only for people with a certain amount of money, but that’s just not the case. In fact, there are several money-saving tips and tricks that people have been using for years that can also be useful for reducing your waste, like meal planning, sharing resources, reducing consumption, and so on.

You can live a zero waste lifestyle with very little expenditure,” Alex states. “The whole idea is that you make your own products and repair your own clothes…You have to be creative and see what options are around.

Zero Waste Lifestyle Sewing

“In terms of accessibility, I think that one of the positives coming out of the pandemic is that zero waste has become more accessible to more people. People have realised that they can make dramatic changes in their lifestyle quite quickly and it’s not been as bad as they thought.”

Myth #3: Start soon and start fast

The biggest mistake many people make when starting out with zero waste is letting their enthusiasm get the best of them. When it comes to sticking with zero waste for the long haul, it’s best not to start too much too quickly.

“If you don’t get into the habit and embed the change into your lifestyle and existing habits, you’ll fail and get frustrated,” explains Alex. “Give yourself the opportunity to have small wins around zero waste.

Instead of trying to change everything in your life all at once, pick one thing you want to change, like planning your meals carefully or switching to a reusable coffee cup. Embed that into your life, get comfortable with the change, then move onto the next thing.

To hear more from Alex Furey and his insights about zero waste lifestyles, have a look at the Instagram Live we had with him here:


  • Rachael Davies

    Rachael Davies is a freelance writer and journalist based in Edinburgh, with work in National Geographic, Huffington Post, and TechRadar. You can find her on Twitter @rachdaviesetc or via her website.