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What is the Difference Between a Zero Waste and Sustainable/Eco-Friendly Lifestyle?

Since starting Lil'Bit and therefore understanding a whole lot more about everyday living including the chemicals in my home, manufacturing processes and the impact my own household has on the environment, I have slowly transitioned from being what I thought was a conscious consumer, into an educated one. The more I have learned about our impact on the environment and climate change over the years, the more I have felt inclined to transition my lifestyle to reflect my findings, heck it's why I upended our whole lives and started Lil'Bit in the first place.

The first thing to understand is that there’s overlap between the two terms. Many items labeled as “eco-friendly” also meet certain criteria of zero waste. Still, they each have their own unique characteristics that set them apart. It’s important to know these details in order to choose the right product or lifestyle for yourself.

Definition Of Eco-Friendly

Eco-friendly is a term that has become increasingly popular in the last few years. It refers to products and practices that are designed with environmental sustainability in mind. In other words, they don’t harm our environment or contribute to climate change from the chemicals/additives used to the packaging and suppliers/sources . This can be anything from using eco-friendly materials in manufacturing processes, to reducing energy/water consumption through efficient lighting systems or the use of recycled products.

Definition Of Zero-Waste

Zero waste opts for a lifestyle that seeks to eliminate all forms of waste. It’s an extreme version of the popular “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” mantra that takes things even further by focusing on eliminating all forms of waste altogether. This means using items for multiple purposes before discarding them, avoiding single-use plastics (this is where using rPET has a benefit) as much as possible, composting food scraps instead of throwing them away, and buying products from companies with sustainable packaging solutions. Zero waste also encourages people to buy in bulk when feasible as it reduces virgin plastic use, usually supports local businesses, and can save money.

The goal behind zero waste is simple: produce less garbage so there’s fewer materials going into landfills or incinerators. This helps reduce pollution and conserve resources since we aren’t constantly producing new goods at an unsustainable rate. Additionally, there are many health benefits associated with this practice such as reducing exposure to toxins found in certain products like cleaning supplies or cosmetics that can be harmful over time. This is a super important point and one I'll come back to shortly*.

Living a zero-waste life isn’t easy. With some creativity and commitment anyone can make small changes towards living more sustainably while still enjoying their favorite activities. There are plenty of online resources available that provide tips on how to get started and offer guidance along the way; plus communities around the world have formed where people share ideas about living a zero-waste lifestyle. Whatever your motivation may be – environmental responsibility, saving money or simply feeling good about helping preserve our planet – taking steps towards becoming more conscious consumers is always worth striving for. Benefits Of Eco-Friendly Practices

Living an eco-friendly lifestyle has its own set of benefits that can make a real difference in our lives. From reducing waste and energy consumption to creating healthier environments, there are plenty of reasons why making the switch is worth it! Here are three key advantages:

Protecting the environment

Eco-friendly practices help reduce air pollution, water contamination, and global warming by lessening the amount of resources we use which ultimately decreases our carbon footprint. Additionally, certain items like organic food or responsibly sourced materials can also be great for wildlife preservation since they don’t require damaging farming techniques or deplete natural areas. *This is where water contamination and the use of chemicals can be a huge issue in Zero Waste products. Zero waste focussed companies are popping up everywhere, which is great, but as we have said, zero waste doesn't equal eco-friendly, especially when talking about cleaning and home products. The difference between the two lifestyles where chemicals and pollution is involved really needs a deep dive. We see many zero waste cleaning products coming onto the market, weather it be soluble tablets, pouches or refillable containers but it's what's IN these products that needs to be looked at closely. I'm sorry to say that many contain all the nasties we are trying to avoid popping into our waterways and into our homes and bodies. Obviously I can't name names here, but so many of these companies products are chock full of SLS, PEG's, Triclosan, Phosphates, fragrance chemicals, MEA, DEA, TEA, Phthalates, Quats.....just to name a few yet they are zero waste and therefore considered eco-friendly. So selling refillable bottles and pouches (which are not often recyclable and end up in landfill anyway) can be misleading if you are looking for an eco-friendly product.

Supporting local businesses

Buying from local small businesses and retailers helps build strong communities while keeping money within them. Eco-conscious choices such as buying handmade, upcycled, recycled and transparent companies is so much better than supporting mass produced products from large corporations. You will get clarity and transparency from many small businesses because they care about their products, the love and care its taken to make them, plus you are directly supporting that business.

Feeling good about yourself

Making conscious decisions when it comes to your purchases not only makes a positive environmental impact but can be personally rewarding too. Knowing that you’re doing something small but meaningful for future generations will bring genuine happiness into your life. Plus, if everyone does their Lil'Bit then together we can create a better world for all!

Benefits Of Zero-Waste Practices

It’s ironic that we live in a world where it’s so easy to create waste, yet so difficult to get rid of it. But there is still hope: by embracing zero-waste practices, we can make real progress towards creating a more sustainable future for ourselves and our planet.

Reduced consumption

Shopping with the intention of avoiding anything disposable (non-recyclable) encourages us to buy fewer items overall, thus reducing resource use and waste production. This also allows us to save money since buying less often means spending less!

Increased awareness

Going beyond simply being eco-friendly requires an increased level of mindfulness when it comes to our daily habits; this heightened awareness makes us more conscious consumers which leads to better decisions both now and moving forward.

Comparison Of The Two Practices

Putting eco-friendly and zero-waste practices side by side reveals how powerful they can be when combined. While each approach has its own unique benefits, together they create a positive impact on the planet that is exponential.

Comprehensive waste reduction

By combining eco-friendly habits with zero-waste ones, you are able to drastically reduce your consumption of single-use items as well as repurpose or reuse others, thus cutting down on overall resource use and waste production.

Zero waste can and should also include recycled and recyclable plastics (WHAT I hear you shriek!)

Baking mats, food pouches and bowl covers made from silicone, bread bags, chopping boards and made from soft plastics and of course rPET bottles are all recyclable - by buying these recycled plastics you are keeping them out of landfill and in circulation, therefore reducing waste as well as saving a load on energy consumption required in their recycling processes and reducing carbon emissions in transport (lighter than glass).

You can read more about why glass isn't that eco friendly when recycled and transported in my another blog here:

Increased awareness

Not only does becoming more conscious about our daily habits lead to better decisions now, but it also helps us become even more mindful consumers in the future. Being aware of both approaches from an early age will help generations to come make smarter choices for themselves and their environment.

A sense of community

Most importantly, embracing both eco-friendly and zero-waste practices creates an opportunity to connect with one another; whether through sharing tips or volunteering locally, these two approaches bring people together towards a common goal—a healthier lifestyle and cleaner world!

As we’ve seen here, there’s no reason why we can’t all benefit from taking part in both eco-friendly and zero-waste lifestyles – so let’s get started today!

So What Now?

The debate between eco-friendly and zero waste practices has been going on for years. While both are beneficial to the environment, they each offer different benefits that appeal to various types of people.

Eco-friendly focuses on finding ways to reduce our environmental impact by using more natural, chemical free and sustainable materials, while zero waste focuses on reducing the amount of trash we create by reusing or repurposing items instead of throwing them away.

To put it in simpler terms, eco-friendly is about being conscious about how much and what's in what you use while producing less waste, whereas zero waste is about being mindful when consuming products and cutting out unnecessary purchases altogether but not necessarily natural or chemical free (in the case of cleaning and home products). In a nutshell, it’s all about striking a balance between living with sustainability in mind and having enough resources so as not to overburden the planet. Doing your part for the environment doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation; every Lil'Bit helps!

At the end of the day, whether you choose eco-friendly or zero waste strategies (or even a combination), one thing is certain: taking action now will help ensure that future generations can enjoy a healthy and prosperous world — something that’s worth its weight in gold!

So don’t sit idly by any longer; get moving toward a greener tomorrow!

Liz x

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