Men Going Zero Waste 101

Image by Zero Waste Week

Going zero waste is for everyone. Contrary to popular belief, the zero waste movement is not a feminine institution. Yes, women are responsible for most household consumer purchases and prone to zero waste. But it doesn’t mean that they have the monopoly on the movement. There are men who are also practicing zero waste but they are 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 such as Lauren Singer, Bea Johnson and Shelbie of shelbzlee pop up. Numerous research and studies that show men as less likely to recycle, 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 when 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 less men visible in the movement since they don’t feel connected or catered to by the zero waste content out there. Imagine, as a man looking to begin his zero waste journey, you casually browse the web for tips but may feel intimidated and insecure at seeing more videos about DIY period pads and female skin care regimens than possible content that he can relate to.

But don’t worry, 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 of the movement back in 1996 when they clamored for Coca Cola to change the way it bottles its eponymous beverage.

Who To Follow: Men Going Zero Waste

As few they may be, male role models are there. To show you what it means to care about the environment enough to change their consumption habits. They are pioneers, athletes, and everyday workmen whose habits you can easily adapt to your own life.

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. It’s time to reclaim the green. It’s time for all men to define masculinity with taking care of the environment, the same way as our ancestors did in the past.

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 in 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 about 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, shelbzlee.

How To Start Going Zero Waste

Aside from the usual, what else should be done?

1. Bike, instead of driving or taking public transportation. It’s better for the environment and also allows you greater mobility and flexibility on the road. You won’t get stuck in traffic when you can squeeze your way out of it! It’s also a great way to exercise without getting that expensive gym membership.

2. Plant a garden. 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. But it could be 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.

3. DIY repairs on everything to make them last. Learn to repair and renovate your own things such as motor bikes, boats, cars, power tools, and whatnot before thinking of buying new ones. If you learn to mend your automotives 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.

4. 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 coworkers, skip the bars and do a BBQ cookout. Double win – Saving your wallet and the environment at the same time!

5. Practice minimalism. To lessen temptation of plastics and waste, 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 journey because the habit of consuming less leads to wasting less.

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  1. I am happy to say that my 26-year-old son is a minimalist and zero waste advocate. He went to college and now lives in Boulder, CO which is a very green city. I am trying little by little to live a more zero waste lifestyle.
    You make some very good points and I see that many men are less likely to take on zero waste principles.
    Thank you for putting this out there to continue to raise awareness!

  2. I am trying as much as possible to limit the waste by being aware of what I am buying and don’t waste food, by eating the vegetables that I grow in my garden, by using as little plastic as I can. This is definitely not a feminist movement, men and women can reduce their impact on the world in same ways.

  3. Zero waste is a term I’m not familiar with, but I love the idea of it. We have been reading a bit about minimalism so it definitely ties in. Can’t wait to learn more about it.

  4. Great idea to follow. In other words to go green actually as far as I understood . I’m a eco friendly person by heart and always prefer to use environment friendly products personally and also insist my near and dear ones to do the same. I loved the content. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love to upcycle! Rather than buy something new, I love to create from existing materials. I have become more conscious of the amount of food that can get wasted too and have really been working to reduce that!


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