Zero Waste

How zero-waste stores minimize your amount of waste

This month I would like to showcase how zero-waste shops can help you to reduce your amount of waste and work towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

You might have already heard about the concept of zero waste, but let’s have a small recap of its definition:

“Zero Waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health ” [1].

Another important topic is circular economy which is closely related to this matter and aims to produce, consume, reuse and recycle products in a way that new products can be created without producing any waste [2]. Circular economy is focusing on production patterns and it requires innovative solutions to face the climate crisis, because for every product energy is needed in the production process. It is important to keep that in mind while making our choices towards more sustainability and our own journey towards zero waste.

This, of course, leads us to the Sustainable Development Goal No. 12 which states:

“Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” and especially the subcategory 12.5

“By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse”

With a closer look at your consumption patterns you can ensure to make SDG 12 happen!

Where exactly does one start?

Of course, this is quite a tough topic and when I started my personal journey towards zero waste, there weren’t many zero-waste stores around. Therefore I started with very small steps . The first ones I did were to avoid plastic and the use of alternatives like bamboo or paper packaging.

After a while the first zero waste stores opened nearby and this was a good opportunity to discover new products. But what exactly makes a difference to usual stores?

Zero-waste stores offer a variety of products from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to natural cosmetics and day-to-day products for your home without any packaging. Some products, especially daily care products, still need some wrapping, but usually recycled paper or other materials which can easily be recycled are used.

My starting point was plastic. Plastic is a very versatile group of materials and in today’s society, life without plastic is unimaginable. But unfortunately only very little of it is recycled, it is simply disposed of into the environment. This has a devastating impact on nature.

So, after a brief reflection on where I produce plastic waste, I decided to start to go towards zero waste in my bathroom.

A product I commonly used in my daily routine was shower gel, which comes in plastic bottles. Therefore I decided to switch to soap which doesn’t necessarily need packaging or only some paper to wrap it in. While familiarising myself with the topic, I became aware of solid shampoo and conditioner, which I incorporated into my hygiene routine. I even switched to solid deodorant. Most of these products I discovered in nearby zero-waste stores. Quite a few of these products are produced by local businesses, which is in line with our above mentioned SDG.

A calculation estimates the amount of waste I was able to reduce per year in my bathroom by just switching to solid soap and shampoo:

Product Bottles per Year
Shower Gel 12
Shampoo 12
Conditioner 6
Total amount 30

It doesn’t seem to be much, but imagine myriads of people doing so. Still, the journey is ongoing and I am still reflecting and reviewing my habits to make further improvements. There are many other items I use like a wooden brush or reusable make-up remover pads, but it is difficult to estimate how much waste I reduced by using them, so I did not include them in my calculations.

There are still many other occasions to make a sustainable choice when you go out and buy new products. If you have a zero-waste store close to you, have a look. By discovering their products you might identify in which area of your life you would like to reduce waste. In my experience these shops offer very good service and are more than willing to assist you in your decision-making process or answer any questions.

Thanks to these shops and their range of products you come across a lot of ideas which will inspire you to new ways of reducing waste.

Another easy starting point is to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging for vegetables and fruits, because they naturally come with protective coating. Do you really want to buy a cucumber which is hugging its plastic blanket? Exactly, try to avoid it! Sometimes glass offers a good alternative and you can find many products like fresh juices, yoghurt or jams without a plastic packaging, but in glasses and glass bottles.

There is a very useful app that helps you to analyse your plastic footprint:

It helps you to identify your footprint and raises awareness in which areas you can find alternative products.

Here are some easy steps to start your journey towards zero waste:

a) Download the App

b) Choose an area of improvement

c) Calculate your plastic footprint

d) Check out the items that need a replacement

e) Visit a close zero-waste store!

Discovering new products can be fun and no one said that zero waste has to be a serious topic!

Enjoy making conscious choices!





Authored,& Published by Stephanie Kusemann |Edited by Gergely Lazar  Illustrated by Oğuz Yılmazlar |Supported by Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Substack, Twitter & WordPress Publications


© 2020 WAYSWiFt Works

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of AAI (AIESEC Alumni International).