Going Zero

Every morning, we wake up to the text alarm that the early morning delivery package we ordered last night has arrived. Due to COVID-19, untact shopping and delivery services are truly booming. However, sometimes guilt comes in front of plastic bags filled with delivery boxes and disposable items piled up in front of the front door. Just as the belly button is bigger than the ship, if there are more packaging materials than the goods, it even feels like I paid for the garbage. Even today, Euranun is living by polluting the environment and experiencing changes caused by the environment. There is something we can do for ethical consumption away from these routines. It’s the zero-waist movement.

Zero Waste is a social movement that minimizes waste for the environment so that the use of disposable products can be reduced and resources and products used in daily life can be recycled. The first person to start this movement was Bea Johnson of the United States. Living in San Francisco, she is the author of Zero Waste Home ( She began reducing trash after reading books and documentaries about plastics in 2006. She also recorded the process on her blog and drew worldwide attention as the New York Times reported it.

The zero-waist practice method that Bea Johnson calls can be summarized as 5R.

They are:

Refuse: Say no to what you don’t need.
Reduce: Letting go of things that are no longer of use and donating or selling. It also means only focusing on necessary purchases.
Reuse: Switching disposable items for reusable and permanent alternatives.
Recycle: We’ve been made to believe that recycling is the go-to solution for waste reduction. In fact, it’s number four in the list behind refuse, reduce, and reuse.
Rot: Compost your own household waste or take part in a composting program for organic waste.

The first is Refuse. According to Bea Johnson, this is the easiest practice to reduce waste. Modern people feel countless temptations in their daily lives. When you buy a cup of coffee, you receive plastic cups and plastic straws, and at the supermarket, you naturally receive plastic bags that deliver goods. Rejecting these things that others distribute free of charge is the first thing in 5R practice. This is in line with the active reduction of plastic around us. In Korea, people have to pay to receive plastic bags or paper bags at marts for a long time, and this policy has had the effect of reducing people from receiving unnecessary items. There are many exercises that reduce take-out cups and use tumblers, but this is not as easy as you think. There are many cases where you forget to use a tumbler. However, if you think of zero-waist one more time, it will not be very difficult to take a tumbler as you go out.

Reduce. This means that if it is inevitable to use, you can reduce the amount of use. That’s the way of life to buy only essential items and mainly products with low packaging. Hong Kong actor Joo Yoon-bal, who made headlines a few years ago for donating about 800 billion won of his entire assets, said in an interview. “If you eat three meals a day and have a small bed to sleep, that’s true happiness.” Sharing unnecessary things to others who need them is necessary to reduce waste, but it can make you feel the joy of sharing. In Korea, an app called “Carrot Market” recently created a big craze. By combining the elements of region with the existing online secondhand trading method, it made it easy and convenient for local residents to trade and share used goods online. These actions also give people economic benefits, but they are also essential for the planet.

Reuse. Straightforwardly, it means reusing objects that can be reused. For example, it refers to a method of washing clean disposable plastic plates or cups and using them again. If you receive an item that you couldn’t refuse in the first place, you can reuse it a few times or put it inside the house from the purchase stage. It is common for us to throw it away even if it becomes a little while wearing clothes. In addition, even though it can be used continuously, it throws away many items under the pretext of being outdated. The clothing brand Patagonia has the slogan “Don’t buy our jacket.” The brand is said to want to wear its products for a long time. Therefore, there is a repair window on one side of the store. Other companies also need to be equipped with this mindset.

Recycle. The third stage of reuse and this recycling have slightly different meanings depending on the approach. Literally reuse means reusing the same item for the same purpose. However, recycling is to repurpose a single item and use it again. It is perceived as an act of giving new purpose to things that cannot be rejected, reduced, and that cannot be reused and bringing new life into them. Already, we are practicing recycling in our daily lives. It is to separate and collect them in a clean and organized state. However, it is very important to follow the separate collection method well. Separating boxes and packaging tapes well and removing plastic covers wrapped in plastic bottles should not be ignored in everyday life.Once recyclable waste is separated and discharged at home, the next step, recycling, is possible.

Finally, Rot. This means that in the case of non-recyclable food, only food should be collected and rotted to make organic fertilizers or livestock feed. If food is just thrown away, it becomes a source of pollution for soil and water resources. In Korea, barrels for collecting food waste are installed in apartments as well as neighborhoods. However, there are many people who discharge garbage, not food waste. Stronger regulations and policies are needed.

It is practically impossible for our daily lives in social and economic activities to be completely free from waste. However, we should know how to distinguish between need and waste, and we should not delay preventing overproduced waste.

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Categories: Society