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The Plastic Zero Waste Movement

August 19, 2022

The Plastic Zero Waste Movement

The plastic zero waste movement has its roots in the 1990s, but the movement is stronger than ever with those involved pushing for reforms every year.

The good news is that more businesses and individuals have become interested in plastic zero waste and what it means for our planet and our future. We will cover three main topics for you here relating to the plastic zero waste movement and how we can work together to repurpose plastics.

Topics to be covered are:

  • How realistic is it to achieve zero plastic waste?
  • The rise of the zero waste business
  • Ways to repurpose plastic

How realistic is it to achieve zero plastic waste?

You might have heard of zero waste activists who keep their entire year’s worth of trash in a single mason jar, but when it comes to corporations, is achieving zero plastic waste a realistic goal?

With so many consumer products containing plastics, in ways many of us are not aware of, is it possible to be completely plastic free?

According to the EPA, zero waste has many definitions depending on the organization you ask, but the general idea is the same. Zero waste principles are:

  • Leave no trace in the wild
  • Repurpose and reuse as much as possible
  • Engage in consumer and producer responsibility, like only purchasing products made in the least wasteful way possible
  • Reduce the use of wasteful products like unnecessary packaging, buying brand new, and overconsumption

While it may not be possible to have absolutely zero plastic waste, you and your organization can work towards this zero waste principle to reduce your plastic footprint in the environment.

Here are a few ways that can mitigate your wastefulness in the world. Here are some examples:

  1. Support businesses committed to producing their products in the least wasteful way.
  2. Buy products from local makers who use sustainable production methods.
  3. Engage in consumer responsibility, such as avoiding unnecessary plastic packaging for items in your local store.

Regarding plastic zero waste, there are a few things you can do to start your journey toward contributing to the plastic zero waste movement. Remember, plastics are not only in your kitchen! They are in a lot of beauty and personal care products as well!

In your bathroom, try to use:

  • Plastic-free razors
  • Refillable makeup and deodorant
  • DIY Toothpaste or toothpaste tablets
  • Bamboo toothbrushes
  • Reusable makeup removing tools like homemade cotton pads

To minimize plastic use in your closet, try these measures:

  • Buying second-hand items and recycling your clothes to second-hand stores
  • Use micro plastic bags in the wash to catch microplastics and keep them from entering the water stream
  • Upcycle or repurpose older items that you would otherwise throw out.

The rise of the zero waste business

A few businesses have cropped up to make it easier to adhere to the plastic zero waste lifestyle. Remember the mason jar activists? Some of them have their own zero waste shops! If you do not have a local zero waste, bulk shop near you, you can order online.

These businesses allow customers to shop in bulk and to bring back glass containers to refill with necessities and foods. You buy everything in bulk with sustainable packaging from home, so there is no plastic waste!

One such business is the Plastic Free Shop. You can order from their assortment of plastic-free, sustainable items online. They have a permanent storefront in New York, but customers can also purchase their products online.

There are many other shops like this around. There may even be a few smaller ones in your area, so keep a look out for them as they’re likely to become more common in the near future.

Ways to repurpose plastic

Now that you feel like maybe you need to replace everything you own, you might want to know how you can do it sustainably.

Use what you already have

The first rule is that you should use up what you already have. Do not throw away all your plastic products or bottles just because you want to contribute to zero waste. Instead, use up those products, recycle them if possible, then opt to repurchase an environmentally friendly alternative product instead.

Repurpose any unexpected plastic items

Secondly, start thinking about how you can repurpose plastic items you receive. Perhaps you order takeout from your favorite restaurant, and they send your food in a plastic container. How can you reuse this?

If it is big enough, it might make for a perfect arts and crafts container, or perhaps you can use it to store small repair items like nails, screws, adhesive strips, or other odds and ends.

Reuse plastic items you own like plastic bags and tupperware

When you start your plastic zero waste journey, you likely still have plastic bags or Tupperware hanging around your home. Similarly to plastic products, think about how you can reuse them until they break or are unusable instead of throwing them away.

Plastic bags make for great carrying bags for lunches or trips to the store. Use them until they rip and are no longer of use. You can also use them for art projects like catching paints or collecting trash that is not recyclable.

Tupperware is pretty strong, so you can use these for food storage, or other storage needs, for a long time before they become unusable or break down. Do not be afraid to keep them!

Keeping plastic items like this in your home on your zero waste journey is far better than ridding your home of them.

Finally, if you have Ziploc bags, reuse them to carry your food until they are no longer usable. You can also use plastic wrap until it is no longer sticky and does not cling.


The key to living a plastic zero waste lifestyle is to be consistently conscious and aware of what you are purchasing and how you use plastics. For organizations, a paradigm shift in the way plastic is treated throughout your daily business practices can start to take place and move you towards achieving zero plastic waste.

At Second Life, we empower organizations to reduce plastic waste around the world through our plastic recovery projects. You can learn more about our plastic recovery projects here.