What is Zero Waste?
The term "zero waste" has multiple different definitions and interpretations, as evidenced by the three varying opinions in the images shown above. In its most boiled-down form, zero waste is as it sounds - not producing any waste. However, from there, the answers you'll find through perusing the internet swing anywhere from diverting materials from landfill into other systems like recycling and composting, to flat-out not producing any recycling, compost or trash, because you've found ways to not need these systems. Some sources see it as an act, while others view it as a lifestyle choice or mentality.
That's leaves quite a bit of interpretation, and frankly, confusion. So I've taken all the different opinions and thoughts on the matter and created my own personal working definition: Zero waste is about practicing lifestyle choices that create less landfill.
At Summit Sustainable Goods, it's not, and never will be, about perfection. By choosing to practice a zero waste lifestyle, you can work to eliminate one plastic bag full of trash a month, or live with simply a mason jar's worth of landfill gathered over the course of an entire year. And here's the critical take-away; both are valid. If you fit into the former category, you probably identify with most sustainably-focused Americans. If you fit into the latter category, that's incredible and you are a model to us all. Notice that in my definition, I use the words "practicing", and "less", not "always accomplishing" and "zero". We are human, and it is often messy to be human, and that's okay. Zero waste should be about building up community and encouraging others, rather than tearing down those who aren't perfect or still have a somewhat sizeable landfill footprint.
At Summit Sustainable Goods, I talk about discovering your summit, or choosing a goal to drive you forward. I'm not concerned whether your summit is the one-fewer-trash-bag-every-month goal or the one-mason-jar-every-year goal, I'm just glad you're here for the journey.
Let's push towards zero waste, discover our summits together, and do more to make less.
Colorado Resources for Zero Waste
Denver Zero Waste Consulting: That Minimal Life
Katie Kurpanek is a Zero Waste Consultant in the Denver-Metro area of Colorado and owner of That Minimal Life. An educator at heart, Katie is committed to educating others about how they can best care for the environment and humanity. She finds fulfillment in supporting others on their journey to live sustainably.
Clients of That Minimal Life will receive a special discount to Summit Sustainable Goods!