The one thing nobody tells you about going zero waste

There are a lot of reasons why reducing our trash is important. 

People produce a lot of garbage.

There are more of us 
making more garbage every single day.

bury our trash in landfills,
which aren’t designed to break down trash, just store it. Garbage in a landfill decomposes very slowly, producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

And we burn it in incinerators,
creating air pollution and and toxic ash.

Plastic is especially problematic because it never degrades, but breaks down into minuscule pieces called microplastics
that have infested nearly every body of water

Plastic garbage is affecting our climate.

And we’re going to have
a lot of explaining to do to our kids someday.

But my favorite reason to go zero waste is one nobody tells you. Why should you go through the trouble to significantly reduce your trash? Well, besides the environmental impact, because:


Zero waste living is intentional living at its best.
Choosing zero waste builds mindfulness into my daily routine. When I slow down and remember my reusable bags, I feel conscious, not distracted. The routine of composting my food scraps reminds me, every time, of my connection to the natural world and the other people on this planet. 

Life becomes simpler.
When you go zero waste, you naturally take some choices off the table. Having fewer choices can be a gift. I don’t need 25 different toothbrush options or aisles of snack foods to choose from. Scientists have found that having too many options decreases our happiness, and that people with fewer options are more satisfied with their decisions.

Plus, I’m on board with anything that can reduce the mental workload of motherhood.

We eat healthier, more wholesome foods.
Oftentimes the more our food is packaged, the less healthy it is to eat. Avoiding disposable packaging brings more whole foods into our diets, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

And we’re released from the consumerism cycle that tells us to buy buy buy.
Buying new creates a lot of trash. When we focus on reducing our garbage, we look to make the things we have last longer. We often choose to own less.

Because, after all, our possessions don’t make us happy.

And having too much actually makes us miserable.
Scientists have found that money increases happiness when it provides comfort and stability, but there’s a point (around $100,000 annually) when our happiness plateaus and having more makes us feel worse.

(Moms especially.)

When we spend less, we have more money to do what’s important.
Like be with family.
Get in touch with our neighbors.

In fact, zero waste living connects people in an increasingly disconnected world.
We rely on community when we previously relied on capitalism. We borrow books from the library, clothing from our friends, and tools from our neighbors. We create community solutions that encourage borrowing over buying.

We become more generous.
Borrowing from others encourages me to lend out my own things. When I’m shopping less and owning fewer things, I have more money to donate and share generously.

We live out our values every day.
Our society is not set up for sustainable living. Reducing our trash requires us to change our habits and make different choices. But this means we have the opportunity to live out our values in little ways every day. Doing something that gives you a sense a life purpose is an important key to happiness.

Add interestingly, people who pursue meaningful lives are happier than those who pursue happiness alone.   

What are your reasons for going zero waste? How has reducing your garbage benefited your life? Tell us in the comments! 

Jenna Bergendahl is a homeschooling mom of three in Minneapolis. She loves biking, camping with her husband and kids, and staying up late reading sci-fi novels. In 2018 she’s taking on a zero waste challenge, trying out veganism, and catching up on episodes of Game of Thrones. She’s also the editor of Zeroish.


    1. Isn’t it great how that happens?! It seems that so many of the things that are good for us are also good for the environment!

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