“Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle.” – Pope John Paul II
Welcome to the 3rd and final part of our 3-part blog series on zero waste and the future. Check out part 1 of this series to learn more about waste, recycling, and the future. Check out part 2 of this series to learn more about reducing and reusing through eco products and zero waste stores. If you prefer listening to reading, check out the audio version of this blog post!
Zero Waste and the Future
The term zero-waste was coined by Palmer in 1973, developing widespread use since then. Zero waste does not see “waste” as something that needs to be disposed of, but it is in fact viewed as a resource to be used like any other. “Zero-waste is a vision, a target, and an aspiration to progress towards sustainable management of waste. The underpinning principle of zero-waste is retaining the value of products instead of depleting the value of the resources.”
We are currently in the age of the Anthropocene, where humanity is having a significant influence on the environment. Many natural earthy processes have now been altered by humans and climate change, and our impact on the environment has become widely known as a significant issue in recent years. Therefore, we must look towards the things we can do now to reach a zero-waste future. Whether that be in 5, 10 or 50 years.
The Fourth R: Responsibility
We all know reduce, reuse, and recycle, but there is a fourth R: Responsibility.
Futurist Wendell Bell says that “people are coming to realise that they must take responsibility for the future, both for their own individual futures and collectively, for the shared future of all humankind.” We need individuals, communities, nations, and humanity as a whole to take responsibility for our actions and involve every sector of the economy to reverse our negative impact on the environment. In an ideal possible future, we would be able to reverse climate change due to the teamwork of all individuals and nations.
One reason for our lack of response on the most part globally about climate change issues is due to our consumerist culture. Products are made with the easiest and cheapest solution in mind by companies, and consumers buy easy cheaply made products that are thrown out for newer items after short periods of time. We see ads like “bigger is better” and “buy now pay later,” elements of advertising that entice us to consume even more and create more waste.
Entrepreneur Elena Diekmann says that “zero waste can’t be achieved without a complete overhaul of our economic model.” We must take responsibility and take control of our linear economic model, aiming for a circular economy like that of Pompeii in history as mentioned in our first blog post of this series. As our previous blog posts have mentioned, we need to recycle, reduce and reuse, as well as invest in technologies of the future that will assist in this.
What Can You Do?
One thing we must focus on in the future is our collective responsibility, because “changing course in the next ten years will require global collaboration on a scale not seen perhaps since World War II.” Businesses, corporations, and governments especially need to move away from easy profit opportunities, towards decisions that benefit the environment.
We are all living in the age of the Anthropocene, so we need to halt and reverse the effect we are having on the environment. As Wendell Bell says, future studies must involve being concerned about and caring for future generations and their wellbeing. This is why we must take responsibility now, to create a better future for all.
What can do? One thing you can do is educate yourself on environmental issues by following our twitter where we share regular environmental and climate change news. You can also do your part to live a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle by purchasing products from our store, Ecoternatives. Ecoternatives is an eco-goods store making sustainability more affordable and attainable for everyone, while also supporting environmental non-profits!
Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2 of our ‘A Zero-Waste Future’ series, and remember: the Future is NOW!