How well do you know your zero waste facts?
Zero waste is so much more than a plastic bag.
It’s sure as hell not zero, that’s for sure. Because for as many “big” zero wasters that show you a Mason jar of trash that they’ve had for five years, there’s a huge amount of trash behind the scenes. The bulk places we shop fill up bulk from packages (often plastic) and any idealized, white-walled zero waste shop has some sort of shipping packaging lurking in the background.
What zero waste on an individual level is is a way to become aware of the concept of existing without waste and pollution, as unattainable as that is currently.
Zero waste is avoiding plastic, but it’s also tackling environmental justice, economic equality, and so much more.
To that end, I wanted to A) quiz your knowledge and B) arm you with some interesting facts to share with people who may say they’re “not interested” in zero waste or climate change.
Zero waste is learning, sharing, and then learning some more.
Let’s jump into the quiz:
HOW MUCH DOES THE AVERAGE US FAMILY OF 4 LOSE TO FOOD WASTE YEARLY?
Globally, food waste creates 4.4 GtCO2-eq per year, or 8 percent of total anthropogenic (made by people) GHG emissions! Pretty shocking, for something most people rarely connect to climate change! Globally, that’s about 1.3 billion tons of food thrown away every year.
WHAT'S THE GLOBAL RECYCLING RATE FOR PLASTIC?
According to a study explained by National Geographic, "of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled."
HOW MANY OF THE WORLD'S CHILDREN BREATHE UNSAFE AIR EVERY DAY?
"Every day around 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk... WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air."
HOW MANY SOCCER FIELDS WORTH OF FOREST ARE WE LOSING PER MINUTE?
We’re losing 18.7 million acres of forests annually, equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute. The main causes of the loss is due to agricultural expansion, poor infrastructure planning, and illegal logging.
How many bottles per minute are we estimated to consume globally?
"A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change."
How many gallons of water does it take to make one organic cotton t-shirt?
The fashion industry – and how you support it, no matter how ethical or sustainable the brand is – has a significant impact on the environment. The most effective solution? Buy second hand whenever possible and be much more thoughtful about what we buy and the energy/resources behind it.
How many people in the US don't have access to fresh food?
The only accessible food in food deserts is usually from dollar stores or pharmacies. No fresh food. Definitely no bulk. No chance at “zero” waste. Never forget that our current systems are unfair and don’t lend themselves to a zero waste life.
How many did you get right? Were there any answers that fundamentally shocked you? If so, consider using those as talking points the next time you get into a conversation about the climate crisis.
Chances are if you found it interesting, so will someone else.
And if you’d like to dive deeper, here are some resources to help take you further:
- 33 easy ways to start zero waste living
- So what’s the state of the environment in 2019?
- 13 reasons why zero waste is more than a plastic bag
- Zero waste in a food desert: how I shopped