It is one of those hot Italian summer days under the parasol when I get to learn about the “zero waste movement”.
Curious and – I must admit – a bit skeptical about its feasibility in our daily life, I started my research about it and I changed my mind.
The zero waste movement is still in the pioneering phase but it is slowly earning appreciation in a growing number of countries, Italy included.
What is the Zero Waste movement?
The zero waste movement is a lifestyle in which people aim to eliminate their trash output completely. This means no plastic, no wrappers, no garbage. While this may seem like an unrealistic task in today’s very disposable society, everyday people are showing that it can be done.
Is a Zero Waste Life possible?
Zero Waste does not require getting to absolute zero.
According to Zero Waste Alliance, “Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary. It guides people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials. In addition it helps to conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.
Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.
Given the theory let’s touch now by hands how to live a zero waste life.
We interviewed Alice Bellini, Founder and zero waste activist of Inspire, a non-profit organization for the promotion of a Zero Waste life. Founded in 2017 together with Veronica Gabriele and Alice Bartorelli, it is today a point of reference in the field.
Surfing through Inspire’s website, I am really impressed by this statement:
Kindness is at the base of a zero waste life. We believe that blaming, shaming and judging are trash as much as all the rest of the waste we produce. Kindness can truly change the world, both environmentally and socially.Inspire ecoparticipation
What is a Zero Waste Life?
To live Zero Waste means to quit and refuse single-use products, regardless of the material. It is something that does not require any specific knowledge: it is a life choice, like any other.
Living a zero waste life does not mean one has to stop buying, that is impossible.
It means making choices that are sustainable like buying only what we need instead of consuming everything at all times.
Every purchase creates an impact. Looking for the most sustainable alternative is already a great step ahead.
- no fast-fashion
- use of sustainable transportation every time we can, so train and bike instead of plane and car
- buy only the food we need in order not to waste it
- buy local and organic food
Is it feasible for “normal” people without specific knowledge of this topic?
It is absolutely something that anyone can do!
We can start from one or two alternatives: no more plastic water bottles, or no more single-use tableware, for example.
And then, when we feel like it, we can add something else. Or we can choose not to buy from certain brands anymore, and go local.
Zero Waste refers to our daily lives: Whatever we can do to protect the environment and avoid social injustice, that’s a Zero Waste action. And ultimately, the more we all live Zero Waste, the more we can make the world a better place.
It is scientifically proven that this way of living is bad for ourselves and the environment. It is unjust and unsustainable and it is leading to alarming consequences.
What does Inspire do?
Inspire helps people live Zero Waste and accomplishes this mission with three main activities.
- Information and education
An open guide on how to live Zero Waste is available on the website for free. We encourage people to try it and also invite people to write us for advise or suggestions.
- Outdoor activities
Trekking, yoga, slackline, beach activities, and so on. While we practice them, we collect the garbage we find on the trail, in the park, on the beach, wherever. We find that these two activities combined are great to raise awareness: They bring people closer to nature and they make them touch with their own hands the pollution we create. It is also easier more immediate to talk about Zero Waste during these activities.
- Education at School
All the donations received through these activities are invested in our project for schools and universities: ReFRESH – Free From Trash.
This project aims to bring environmental education and Zero Waste culture to as many schools as possible, for free. That’s where we invest all the funds and donations we receive and for which we strive daily.
Your primary target are the young generations. What is your ultimate goal when you spend a day out with them?
Our goal is to inspire them to care for the environment and to make sustainable choices for their life.
We strive to make them see the beauty, the magic and the importance of nature and of a balanced ecosystem. We empower them to unleash their full potential in making the difference.
We urge them to never feel too small, too young or insignificant. To not feel alone. To realize they all are some kind of superheroes that have the greatest of superpowers: Choice. The choice to make change happen and to make the world a better place.
As we have seen here, Generation Z is the one that cares the most about diversity, respect, and ethical.
What do you expect from Generation Z?
We expect the same thing we expect from all generations: To realize that Planet Earth is fundamental for our survival and that the lifestyle we have now is not sustainable.
Collaboration and teaming up is at the base of a sustainable, Zero Waste life. No one can do it alone. Together is how we make the difference, uniting our single actions, that become a general movement and an established lifestyle.
Last question. Where the idea comes from?
We are very passionate about outdoor activities of all kinds, that’s how we met: in the outdoors, rock climbing and trekking.
To be in so much close contact with nature can make you realize its importance, how fundamental it is for our survival…and how much pollution there is. It can make you wonder what you can do to preserve the environment. It can make you look for ways to do that.
So we started adopting a different kind of lifestyle, even when at home.
We started picking up the garbage we found while on a trail or walking by the cliffs, or wherever really. But we wanted to reach as many people as possible, sharing our experience, possibly inspire them…and that’s how we decided to found Inspire.