Going zero waste is for everyone. Contrary to a popular belief, the zero waste movement is not a feminine institution. Yes, women are responsible for most household consumer purchases and prone to zero waste. But it does not mean they have the monopoly of the movement. Out there, are men also practicing zero waste, but they are overwhelmed by the vast plethora of female voices in the movement.
With every search of “zero waste movement”, immediately names of female zero waste personalities such as Lauren Singer, Bea Johnson and Shelbie of shelbzlee pop up. In addition, numerous research and studies show men are less likely to recycle, more likely to litter, and more hesitant to donate to “green” causes. They associate “green” with feminist ideals and seem averse to it. This is somewhat ironic when this color is traditionally considered masculine.
Misnomer of the feminine zero waste movement
The femininity of the zero waste movement is a self-fulfilling cycle mainly because there are less men visible in the movement.
It turns out, men don’t feel connected or catered to by the zero waste content out there. Imagine, as a man looking to begin his zero waste journey, you casually browse the web for tips on “zero waste tips for men” but may feel intimidated and insecure at seeing more videos about DIY period pads and female skin care regimens than possible content you can relate to.
Or if not, men may feel underrepresented or mislabeled by being “less likely to care for environmental or social issues.” To rebut this, a study on gender gap actually shows that both men and women claim they are environmentalists. A significant fifty/fifty split between the genders can be observed in the findings.
The truth is, men are there in the zero waste movement and have always been since its inception. In fact, a man himself, Eric Lombardi, is one of the pioneers when in 1996, they clamored for Coca Cola to change the way it bottles their eponymous beverage.
Who To Follow: Men Going Zero Waste
Male role models are there in the zero waste community. Although they started few, names keep adding on the list. They are pioneers, athletes, and everyday workmen whose habits you can easily be adapted with your own life. They exist to show what it means to care about the environment enough to change their consumption habits.
It may be jarring at first to change your lifestyle. But as you go through it day by day, you’ll find it fulfilling and exhilarating. It’s time to reclaim the green. It’s time for all men to define masculinity with taking care of the environment, the same way our ancestors did it in the past.
1. Eric Lombardi
Before Zero Waste was cool, he and twenty-five other protesters banged on the doors of Coca Cola headquarters in Atlanta. They demanded the multi-billion-dollar company to uphold their promise of bottling their beverages in a less wasteful way. That promise was to use 10-percent recycled content in their bottles, made during the infamous Cola Wars years earlier. It was in that fiery afternoon in 1996 that Zero Waste was first released as a vision to the public.
It was Eric Lombardi who we should most credit and acknowledge for his wise words, “Zero Waste is a journey, not a destination, and that the promotion of “Zero Waste…Or Darn Near is what we need today to shake the recycling industry out of its current slumber and get back on track changing the world for the better.” His message is leagues better than those zero waste personalities who tout mason jars of trash because he shows from the very start, zero waste is not about perfection, but about consciousness.
2. Richard Eckersley
This former Manchester United defending player quit the team to launch with his family the culmination of a dream – a revolutionary way to shop in the United Kingdom. Earth. Food. Love, located at 101 High St, Totnes, Devon, is the first zero-waste, vegan food shop in Great Britain. They sell package-free organic, plant-based, gluten-free foods and glass jars in case customers weren’t able to bring their own containers to the store. This store is managed with love as Eckersley hopes to grow the family-run business into a multi-generational legacy.
3. The Minimalists
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus quit their corporate jobs and decided to cleanse their lives of everything that isn’t essential. This way, they advocate for the zero waste lifestyle wherein they consume less, and cherish more in life. Although not blatantly zero waste, they have shared their views and platforms with prominent zero waste personalities such as Shelbie of the popular YouTube channel, shelbzlee.
4. Rob Greenfield
Aside from being an adventurer, Greenfield was also known as an environmental activists. In 2013, he cycled across America using a bamboo-made bicycle to inspire his countrymen to live sustainably. In his journey, he only accumulated 2 pounds of trash, plugged into outlets only five times, and never turned on a light switch. He is also known for his year-round no showering campaign. During this times (April 2013 to April 2014), he only bathed on natural water sources to save water, obviously. Other than that, he did it to inspire Americans to conserve water and be more conscious with their surroundings.
His adventures, including the bamboo bicycling, was published in his book Dude Making a Difference. Other than the aforementioned, he participates in many environmental activities such as planting and food conservation.
How To Start Going Zero Waste
Aside from the usual, what else should be done?
1. Bike, instead of driving or taking public transportation. It’s better for the environment and also allows you greater mobility and flexibility on the road. You won’t get stuck in traffic when you can squeeze your way out of it! It’s also a great way to exercise without getting that expensive gym membership.
2. Plant a garden. It’s not just for women. Since time immemorial, men have been tilling the land and reaping its fruits. There’s no reason to stop that tradition. It’s not only healthy. But it could be a good source of extra income. There are many ways you can spin the fruits of your labor into highly lucrative businesses. So you can plant trees, herbs, vegetables and fruits not only for personal consumption but for commercial release. Then if you have more capital and the business grows more, you can expand it into a farm or a plantation.
3. DIY repairs on everything to make them last. Learn to repair and renovate your own things such as motor bikes, boats, cars, power tools, and whatnot before thinking of buying new ones. If you learn to mend your automotives on your own, not only will you be saving by not going to the repair shop, you’ll also be saving for more memories and moments in things that you might have thought possible.
4. Eat at home more. Cook or enjoy your significant other’s meals more than those in the restaurant and fast food establishments. Two good things come from this decision. First, you minimize food waste. Second, you get to spend more time with your loved ones. Then should you be in a mood for a guys’ out or a hang out with coworkers, skip the bars and do a BBQ cookout. Double win – Saving your wallet and the environment at the same time!
5. Practice minimalism. To lessen temptation of plastics and waste, simply buy less and cherish more of what you already have – instead of yearning for something from the shops. Think first before you buy. If it doesn’t give value to your life (not sentimental value), let it go. This is the best step to your zero waste journey because the habit of consuming less leads to wasting less.