Going zero waste is a lifestyle toward efficient use of resources to avoid scarcity and trash that could pollute land and bodies of water. Women are known to be more conscious when it comes to cleanliness while people might think that men’s interest is not in line to practice zero waste. This kind of fallacy is what we should remove from our minds.
Contrary to a popular belief, the zero waste movement is not a feminine institution. Yes, it is true that women are responsible for most household consumer purchases and being likely prone to zero waste. But it does not mean that they have the monopoly of the movement. Some men also practice zero waste but are just 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 are being highlighted such as Lauren Singer, Bea Johnson, and Shelbie or Shelbizleee. Besides, numerous research and studies show men are less likely to recycle, reuse, and reduce the amount of waste but are 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 as 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 fewer men visible in the movement.
Some videos show how to reduce, reuse, and recycle but it turns out that men don’t feel connected or catered by the zero waste content out there. Imagine, as a man looking to begin his zero waste journey, they casually browse the web and type “zero waste tips for men”.
But they have the feeling of intimidation and insecurity at seeing more videos about DIY period pads and female skincare regimens than possible content they can relate to. There are also instances that men feel underrepresented or mislabelled by “less likely to care for environmental or social issues.”
To rebut this, a study on the 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
There are male role models in the zero waste community. Although they started in few numbers, names keep adding to the list. They are pioneers, athletes, and everyday workmen with habits you can easily adapt to your own life. They exist to show what it means to care about the environment by changing 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 by a sense of new beginnings. It’s time to reclaim the green. It’s time for all men to associate masculinity with taking care of the environment the same way our ancestors did it in the past. For this to happen, men should try to observe and go along with these people:
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 on 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 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, Shelbizleee.
4. Rob Greenfield
Aside from being an adventurer, Greenfield was also known as an environmental activist. 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 these 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 of 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?
Instead of driving or taking public transportation. If many of us would follow or do this, there is a chance that we can help our mother earth preserve the ozone layer, and also it would allow you to have greater mobility and flexibility on the road. You won’t get stuck in traffic when you can squeeze your way out of it! Biking can also be your habit and it’s also a great way to exercise without getting that expensive gym membership. While you are having some fun, you can help the environment by preventing the unwanted smoke that vehicles might cause.
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 as it could be also 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.
DIY repairs on everything to make them last. Learn to repair and renovate or recycle your own things such as motorbikes, boats, cars, power tools, and whatnot before thinking of buying new ones.
If you learn to mend your automotive 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.
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 co-workers, skip the bars, and do a BBQ cookout. Double win! Saving your wallet and the environment at the same time!
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 journeys because the habit of consuming less leads to wasting less.
Zero waste is a set of principles associated with the efficient use of resources especially those natural ones. It encourages everyone to be creative in utilizing those materials they already possess and innovate them so that fewer materials could be wasted. It also aims for cleanliness that starts in one’s household and expands to a sustainable environment.
Women are known to be more conscious than men to practice zero waste but it does not mean that men lack interest in it. It’s just they are overwhelmed by those famous women who had established their names for leading the movements toward the goal of zero waste. In fact, there is also a notable number of men who protested for a sustainable environment.
You don’t have to be a great influencer to be recognized as someone who contributes a huge change for the betterment of our mother earth. You don’t need to be part of something big institution to start the change because you already have the potential to start the change. A single movement may look insufficient but remember that a successful goal is composed of small objectives made possible by each working body.