Zero Waste
& Circular Economy

If it can’t be reduced, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.” – Peter Seeger

Why is a circular economy so important for our future? And how is it connected to “Zero Waste”? Check out this guideline and help to create  circular Switzerland! 

So what is a circular economy?

Image adapted from PWC Switzerland, read and learn more here.

We all need things.

But.. there is a world of opportunity to rethink and redesign the way we produce and use things. Circular Economy is about transforming the way goods are created and consumed: from linear to circular.

It’s about minimising resource inputs, about producing differently, about consuming less, and making sure that whatever is left is properly recycled.  

Goal: the goods do not end up in the trash bin, but find their way back to the economy or nature thanks to creativity and innovation. 

This is SHAREaLOOK. They are only one of the many cool circular concepts that young entrepreneurs are developing for you! Check out SHAREaLOOK and many others, buy from them and thereby support them in creating a Circular Switzerland.

So how are the Circular Economy and Zero Waste connected? Zero Waste or minimal waste is about us all trying to reduce our waste, by simplifying our lifestyle. We reduce and consume only what we need, and where we do need things, we buy circular and sustainable products, and hence we help to build a circular Switzerland. 

Hence the “slow” in the diagram 🙂

It’s easy to change your habits

The 5 R’s of Zero Waste

Refuse: Say no to what you don’t need.

Reduce: Letting go of things that are no longer of use and donating or selling. It also means only focusing on necessary purchases.

Reuse: Switching disposable items for reusable and permanent alternatives.

Recycle: We’ve been made to believe that recycling is the go-to solution for waste reduction. In fact, it’s number four in the list behind refuse, reduce, and reuse.

Rot: Compost your own household waste or take part in a composting program for organic waste.

* p.s. Zero Waste is not really possible, it’s really an aim to work towards. Therefore many people use the term “minimal waste” as well. 

 

circulareconomy_5R

What can you do?

Refuse – Learn How to Say No and Mean It

Say no to…

  • Flyers and business cards: If you’re offered one, take a picture of it using your phone.
  • Marketing freebies: Just because it’s free, don’t take that as a reason to accept it. If you know you won’t use them, leave them for someone who will.
  • Air fresheners: These might seem like essential items, but you can make them at home with things you’ve already got in your cupboard.
  • Single-use plastics and disposables: Included in this section are straws, cutlery, and plastic bags.
  • Produce wrapped in plastic: Choose products that aren’t wrapped in plastic or netting. Shop for produce at your local farmer’s market, greengrocers, local food co-op, or direct from the farm.
  • Free bottles of water: When you attend a conference or are flying take your own reusable water bottle with you.
  • Junk mail: Stick a ‘no junk mail’ notice on your letter box to stop paper deliveries.
  • Travel: Instead of your next carbon-heavy holiday, think about going somewhere nearby by train.
Reduce what you need

There are different methods of reducing your personal items. Here are some of them:

Marie Kondo’s Method
Get everything out of your closet, and ask yourself with each item: “Does this object bring me joy?”
Keep what brings you joy, and donate the rest. Can be done for clothes, books, furniture, kitchen tools, etc.

Bea Johnsons Method
Ask yourself the following questions for each item you own.

  • Does it still work? Is it outdated? Is it in good condition? Or is it repairable?
  • Do I use or put it on regularly?
  • Do I have more than one?
  • Does it put my family’s health at risk?
  • Do I keep it out of guilt? (Auntie gave it to me!)
  • Do I keep it because society tells me I need it or because “everyone has one”? (a salad spinner)
  • Does he deserve that I spend time cleaning it up?
  • Could I use this space for something else?
  • Is it reusable?

333 Project’s method
Choose 33 items in your wardrobe (among clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, coats, etc.) to wear during the next 3 months and put the rest in a box that you will not open. After 3 months, you realize that you do not need so much, and can give the rest away.

“Time Thinking” Method
Ask yourself: How many hours do I have to work to buy that product? How much of my time is this item worth? Turning the money into time is a great help to understand if it’s really worth it.

Reuse what you consume

It is best to favor long lasting materials in order to extend the life cycle of our objects. Repair what is broken, buy deposit containers and up-cycle as much as possible.

Recycle what you can't reuse

There are some cases, where getting rid of something is the only option. In this case it is best to recycle. Recycling allthough uses ressources and produced pollution so try to reuse items as much as possible.

Compost the rest

Compost the peels of fruits and vegetables, or any organic waste and use it as a fertilizer for your future plants.

Inspiration

There are hundreds of recipes, tutorials blogs and instagram channels about zero or minimal waste! Find here some of our favorite videos. Furthermore we love the the website of Wasteland Rebel

In the end it’s all about trying things out, having fun in doing so, and sharing your results with friends. Exactly what we also often do during our events and projects around zero waste. 

Packaging is the number one contributor to plastic pollution in the world. Over 50% of the world’s plastic thrown away is from packaging. Making your own products in jars, or whatever you have available, but also buying low-waste alternatives from circular entrepreneurs helps .. a lot!

“Ever since the workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds I am hooked on making more and more products myself. My latest passion is canning and preserving food. I just made my own tomatosauce!”
Celine, La Chaux-de-Fonds

“For me minimizing my waste is a challenge. Especially I try to refuse whenever possible. And turn off any commercial email or distraction I might get (online).”
Mark, Aarau

Do you have other tips to share?

We’d love to hear your story!