Turning the Tide on Climate Change with Zero-Waste Practices
Making even a small change can have a positive impact on the environment.
- By Nicolle Portilla
- May 05, 2023
The climate change threat is increasing with every passing minute. The need for environmental awareness is today a pressing issue. According to research studies by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the environment will soon reach no return without profound institutional and economic reforms. It means the planet is at a climate crossroads and requires urgent help. With the climate changing, different parts of the world will become more challenging. The climate is just one of the factors behind human migration.
This article will explain how you can turn the tide on climate change with zero-waste practices.
What Are the Causes of Climate Change?
Climate change refers to the changes in weather patterns of a location or the globe. It occurs after many years, decades or even longer.
According to geological records, there has been a massive climate variation on Earth. The variations are due to several natural factors. The main one is emissions from volcanoes, changes in the sun, carbon dioxide levels and variations in the earth’s orbit.
Other common causes of climate change include:
- Power generation
- Manufacturing goods
- Food production
Effects of Climate Change
The effects of climate change are devastating. Climate change will impact human health and crop growth. It will force many people to change their way of living and habits. Climate change also places certain species at risk of extinction. Climate change effects are accurate and are already happening.
With climate change worsening, dangerous weather events are getting more popular and severe. People worldwide face the consequences of flooding, wildfires, heat waves and coastal storms.
Here are some of the impacts of climate change on the planet.
- Hot temperatures
- Severe storms
- Increase in drought
- Species loss
- Shortage of food
- Rise in health risks
- Displacement and poverty
Climate change will increase the risk of problems across the world. Developing nations will experience the most severe effects despite developed countries producing greenhouse emissions. With fewer resources to adapt to the changes, its impact on people in developing nations will be high.
Why Zero Waste is a Priority Climate Solution
Zero waste offers great economic and environmental benefits. With all eyes on climate change, it is important to prioritize zero waste as a cheap and sure climate solution. Taking action now will mean taking a huge chunk of the climate impact. It will enable us to address long-term challenges around transportation and energy.
Here are some reasons why zero waste is a priority climate solution.
A huge part of the solution. How we produce, transport, consume and dispose of food and other items accounts for 42 percent of the U.S.’ greenhouse emissions.
Easy to implement now. We don't need to wait for new technology to develop solutions to act when we know how to recycle and compost. All that is important is getting everyone to take part.
Reduces energy emissions. Recycling helps in saving energy that would have been used in making new items.
Cost-effective. Recycling will help reduce greenhouse gases for every dollar spent.
Fast-acting. Landfills' methane traps 84 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Pulls carbon down. Composting will not reduce emissions. Instead, it pulls carbon down and stores it in the soil. It helps in reversing carbon emission problems.
Protects carbon sinks. Reducing, reusing and recycling will help prevent deforestation and land use changes, accounting for 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Different Ways to Implement Zero-Waste Practices
Zero waste cannot happen overnight. Taking small steps will help in reducing consumption and the disposal cycle. Below are different ways to implement zero-waste practices.
Eliminate single-use items. Single-use paper goods or plastics contribute to garbage increase and pollution. It would help if you resorted to using reusable items.
Take note of the trash. Examining your garbage will help you identify where most of your waste comes from. It will give you an idea of the practices to refine to help reduce waste production.
Recycle. You can recycle in multiple ways, from repurposing old objects to sending materials to facilities. Recycling will help save on energy and reduce greenhouse emissions and deforestation.
Shop at thrift stores. Purchasing secondhand clothes is an excellent method of reusing pre-existing materials.
Repurpose household items. Consider repurposing household items to help reduce waste. You can turn old bedsheets into reusable totes for shopping. Use fabric bags to help carry fresh produce.
Compost. Most food waste, like fruit peels or eggshells, is compostable. Composting will help turn food scraps into nutrients for your soil.
Purchase fresh foods. Most processed foods are always in plastic packaging, making them environmentally harmful. Purchasing fresh foods is an excellent way to reduce the use of plastics.
Use rechargeable batteries. Consider switching to rechargeable batteries if you always use disposable batteries. Rechargeable batteries will help save money and reduce plastic packaging use. It will also reduce the number of batteries in landfills.
Connect with the zero-waste community. Join forums and message boards or go to community centers that encourage zero waste lifestyle. Such groups will help and offer the necessary information to ensure a successful zero-waste lifestyle.
Future Outlook for Zero-Waste Practices and Climate Change
Zero-waste practices offer a great opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to research findings, zero-waste practices can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. It is equivalent to taking over 80 U.S. coal-fired power plants from the grid. Zero-waste practices offer more great annual greenhouse gas savings than other climate strategies.
Building a zero-waste future means rethinking waste economics and problem-solving from different angles. Creating end-to-end solutions will reduce waste and prevent it from the outset. The reduce-reuse-and-recycle approach to waste is currently undergoing an overhaul.
Businesses are changing how people consider waste and removing it from landfills to eliminate it. With more companies and governments committing to a zero-waste future, expect an increase in investment in novel materials. Technologies and systems emerge that promise to reduce waste while increasing sustainable impact and scaling up circularity.
Nicolle Portilla is RTS & Zero Waste Marketing Manager, and has been a valued member of the team since July 2018. She is responsible for content creation on all platforms, leveraging creative software, industry trends and research, and social media strategy to build upon the company’s online presence. Additionally, Nicolle contributes to the RTS blog, which serves to educate clients and industry players about our technology and sustainability efforts, and is responsible for the creation and dissemination of our internal and external newsletters.
Prior to taking on the role of Marketing Manager, Nicolle served on the Sustainability team for nearly three years, assisting clients in achieving their sustainability goals through external communications and event organizing. Preceding Nicolle’s time on the RTS team is her work with Clean Water Action, where she promoted clean water initiatives. Nicolle graduated from Stony Brook University in 2018 with a B.A. in Sustainability.