Can Cities Become Zero Waste?

The zero waste movement has been gaining momentum in recent years. On YouTube, there are so many prominent individuals who blog about their journey towards a Zero Waste lifestyle (some examples below):

There is also the growing trend of tiny homes that help you reduce your carbon footprint and waste less! Many of these homes are made from reclaimed items, such as reclaimed wood, shipping containers, and other scraps that can be used to build a sustainable, sturdy home that relieves people the stress of paying years and years of mortgages, and allowing people the liberty to not worry about making huge amounts of money just to keep the lights on in the home.


Realistically, I think it’s difficult to officially become zero waste, regardless of conscious purchases and buying in bulk with reusable cloth bags and glass containers, especially if you still buy items at stores that get their products from industrial farms and factory food farming (think: greenhouse gas emissions, monocropping, overfishing, society’s desire for aesthetically pleasing food items, just to name a few!) However, I do admire their commitment to staying away from plastic items and dedication to composting and if they buy from their local farmers’ markets and vendors.

They make it look so easy, especially if they’ve adopted these lifestyles for months or years; however, how feasible is this lifestyle of zero waste, or at least reducing waste, within cities? It seems difficult to implement a “reduce waste lifestyle” without the help of policy. Many people (not all), in general are more likely to follow the rules that are put in place for them, rather than adopt a new behavior of purchasing non-plastic items and bringing their own cloth bags and containers to their stores to buy in bulk.

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There are some cities around the world that have started taking steps towards zero waste, which I wanted to share for those who are interested! 🙂

  • San Francisco, CA: SF has a very ambitious goal to become a zero waste city by 2020. By focusing on three main principles (preventing waste, reducing and reusing items, and recycling and composting what can be recycled and composted), it is feasible to dramatically decrease the number of items and bags of garbage that end up in the landfills. (BTW, this website also provides a cool video about what they’re doing to become a zero waste city!)
  • Kamikatsu, Japan: Kamikatsu has an insanely efficient waste collection center that helps eliminate waste in their little town. With less than 2,000 people in their town, they aim to become the first zero waste community in Japan by 2020! It’s pretty amazing to see the steps they are taking and that all of the community members have adopted; check out their video here!
  • France: France is the first country to ban supermarket food waste. I’m not sure where you live, but there’s a good chance that your local supermarket staff spend time tossing the unattractive fruits and vegetables before they open the doors to consumers, and some produce items that we may find unappealing and choose not to buy eventually end up being thrown away, too! Currently, a whopping 1.3 BILLION TONS of food meant for consumption is thrown away around the world (more stats here), while there are millions around the world who suffer from food insecurity.

So, now that you’ve seen some examples of successful zero waste individuals and cities who are in this movement, are you interested in making small changes to your everyday lives and make a difference? It can be as small as using a stainless steel water bottle or BYOB (bring your own bag!) when you purchase items 🙂


We have ONE planet (for now). If we continue to produce more than 220 MILLION TONS of trash that end up in landfills each year (in the US), eventually we will run out of space to put the trash! Let’s not let it get that far… 🙂


Water-Saving Tips & Tricks

Countries around the world are currently facing water scarcity. Drought is caused by a lack of precipitation for an extended period of time, which can affect agriculture, the economy, and our bodies of water. In the 1930s, the US had experienced the Dust Bowl, a period in which soil from large plots of land would blow away due to wind erosion. Because of a lack of understanding of topsoil and necessary grasses to keep soil in place, farmers had plowed the land that uprooted these grasses and soil and made it easier for strong winds to pick up the soil during a drought, making the land unable to support any agriculture during that period.


California has been suffering from a drought for the past few years, and as our main source of produce throughout the country, we should be wary of potential ramifications of wasting unnecessary water when we should be focusing on water conservation. Less than 3% of water on the planet is fresh, potable water, while the rest is undrinkable (ocean water or water with too much salinity). If you do not live in a water-scarce city or country, you might want to consider the term Tragedy of the Commons, where we as individuals “act independently according to [our[ own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all [individuals] by depleting that resource through [our] collective action.”

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Individually, we may not see a huge impact, but by becoming more aware of how we use our water and tweaking our behaviors slightly to use a little less water, we can educate others to alter their behaviors and make it more possible to make a larger impact and help the environment. On average, one household in the US can use up to 400 gallons of water IN A DAY!

Here are some tips for conserving water in your home:

  • turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth
  • turn off the faucet when you soap your dishes before you rinse them
  • take shorter showers by timing yourself
    • if you listen to music while you shower, limit your showers to 1-2 songs (that can range between 3-10 minutes)
  • fix any leaks when you detect them to prevent wasted water
  • if you can, invest in an efficient toilet with two flush settings
  • use a broom to sweep away leaves or dirt outside of your home instead of hosing down the sidewalk and driveway
  • use a sponge and a bucket to wash your car instead of spraying a hose
  • invest in xeriscaping over a green grass lawn; it doesn’t just save water, but it can bring out your creativity!
  • more tips here 🙂
An example of a backyard with xeriscaping!

What tips and tricks do you have for conserving water within your home?

Supporting Farmers’ Markets

I have to say, living less than 10 minutes from a farmers’ market in Baltimore is pretty great. It was my first time going this past Sunday and I wanted to curb my expectations in case it wasn’t as humongous as I’d imagined it to be, but I was not disappointed!

These vendors were literally right below the highway!

Nestled right underneath the Jones Fall Expressway, it’s impossible to miss. If you’ve ever visited Smorgasburg in NYC, or a bustling flea market, this is the impression I got from this farmer’s market when my roomie and I arrived. Three words: it. was. PACKED.

We arrived later that morning when there were still a large number of people walking around browsing each stand, and we quickly hurried to buy our produce. I walked away with two tote bags full of fresh, locally grown produce for less than $20!

Going to farmers’ markets is definitely a great way to support local entrepreneurs and farmers. You are not only helping a small business, but you are buying fresh, in-season produce so you know they’ll be tasty to eat as a snack or in your meals, and most of the time these farmers will not use pesticides or other chemicals on their crops. If you want to know more reasons why you should support your farmers’ markets near you, click here 🙂

Check out some meals made with the produce I purchased at the farmer’s market here:

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