January 19, 2020

How Much Does It Cost to Go Zero-Waste?

“Nikki Smith, an IT worker from Columbus, Ohio, was excited to find the r/ZeroWaste subreddit. Always a bit of an environmentalist, in recent years she became more serious about doing everything she could to reduce her carbon footprint. She dove head first into the online community, eagerly adopting tips like making reusable cotton rounds out of old or ill-fitting clothes.

Beyond those gems, though, a certain kind of post has irked her.

“I kept seeing post after post after post of people sharing photos and info on ‘look at these zero-waste things I just bought!’” Smith says over email. “It just boiled me long enough that I had to speak up.”

So, after a few weeks of seeing more posts like this than usual — maybe due to more new folks recently joining the subreddit — she made a post urging people to stop buying zero-waste things, arguing that these purchases are part of the problem.

“A lot of these items were ordered online with unrecyclable packaging, and then [there’s] fuel emissions from shipping,” she says. “And a lot of these items I kept thinking probably could have been found second-hand somewhere. Water bottles especially! They’re everywhere.””

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