The Problem with Zero-Waste & Environmental Advocacy (and my opinion on how to personally address it)

The goal of the zero-waste movement is right in its name: to create zero-waste, or as little waste as possible. Environmental advocates outside of this niche group oftentimes talk about how they want to lower their carbon footprint.

This mindset, however, can be troublesome. The easiest way to minimize your waste or to minimize your carbon footprint is to simply not exist at all. Sometimes it may seem like Earth would be better off without you, because if you didn’t exist, then you would be able to completely minimize your negative ecological impact towards the earth. Many advocates preach about how it is us humans who are destroying the planet. (These are also the type of thoughts an environmentalist who chooses not to have any children might have.)

Some people may consider this mindset to be dangerous and cynical, while others may think this mindset is realistic and responsible. Throughout different stages of my life, I have leaned towards both perspectives respectively. Currently, I am at a point in my life where I seek a positive outlook. By this logic, I urge us to try not only to make choices towards a sustainable future, but to make choices towards a regenerative future.

Let’s not only put our energy into minimizing humans’ negative ecological impact (in which not existing is the “best” option). Let’s put our energy into cultivating a positive ecological impact. By living a life based on permaculture principles and by inspiring others to live a more ethical and eco-conscious lifestyle, you can have a positive impact on our planet. (Can that positive impact outweigh the inherent negative one that comes with our human existence? I don’t have lab results to prove that’s the case, but I do think that there is a way for humans to live in harmony with nature. We just have to figure out how to get there.)

“…the biggest impact that any of us can have is by prioritizing how we vote, agitate, lobby, invest, protest and innovate for changes that move beyond our own individual impacts to a shift in our collective and societal norms.” Sami Grover