Zero Waste Movement. Scroll down social media feeds. Search Google about it. Immediately, you’ll see names and faces of women such as Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer. You’ll watch videos of zero waste pantries and beauty regimens. This is no accident. Women are the primary caretakers of the home. They bear the brunt of housekeeping, shopping, and cooking. So companies worldwide continue to cater to women. After all, they have the lion’s share of attention in the media.
The Feminine Face of the Zero Waste Movement
Historically, women are vulnerable due to wage gap and unpaid housework. Most also work in areas at risk of environmental disasters. In fact, most of the Zero Waste community see it as part of ecofeminism.
This brings the whole Zero Waste Movement to a feminine slant. Countless studies show that environment-friendly behavior are seen as feminine. So men are more likely to donate to organizations with masculine-looking logos. For instance, an 2016 study found men are more likely to litter, Next, they leave a larger carbon footprint. They also feel less responsible about environmental impacts than women. Therefore, they protect their masculine ego in the face of a female-dominated movement.
The Truth about the Zero Waste Movement
But that doesn’t show the whole truth of the matter. No, don’t assume that men are not eco-friendly. No, men do care enough about the environment to change their consumerist habits. Rather, they don’t care enough about sharing their practice to netizens. Anecdotally, more males are into the Zero Waste movement. Firstly, there are rural zero wasters. They are farmers, fisher folks, and others who live off the land. Unlike women, men prefer showing their lifestyle to family and friends. In short, they are silent achievers.
Firstly, men buy things that last. They also prefer to do things in a fast pace. No need to show off. No posting on Instagram. Rather, they just eat. Given societal pressures, women want affirmation. And support for their efforts. But men usually don’t. Simply put, they just do it.
Second, the Zero Waste Movement boomed in social media. For instance, in Instagram. This is a problematic development of the movement. Social media will never be a suitable representation of zero wasters. Because having access to internet alone is a matter of privilege. Possibly male zero wasters don’t have the time to post. After all, they have demanding work hours.
Dominant female voices skew the representation of the zero waste movement. This is also to the detriment of the movement. Because men don’t feel connected to it. They mostly see blogs of housewives. Or browse stores managed by millennial gals. And they think, “Where am I in all this?” The way they approach zero waste is different. Very different in terms of research and practice. But this way is not always visible or recognized.
Role models for men in the zero waste movement
Bradley Layton is one of the policy movers in the global movement of zero waste. Layton co-founded the Integration Energy. He published the acclaimed book “Zero Waste in the Last Best Place”.
He started thinking of zero waste after one summer’s experience. That summer, he was not allowed to put his trash in the garbage truck. Because he was not a paying customer. Since that day, he decided not to contribute anything to Mts. Landfill and Methane. He and other scientists worked to develop carbon-neutral policies. Then states around the world adapt them to help solve the impending climate change crisis.
Another male eco waster is a pioneer in the Zero Waste Movement. Before Bea Johnson, there was Eric Lombardi. In 1996, with twenty other protesters, he protested against Coca-Cola. Here, he first said that recycling was no longer enough.
He put forth the vision of zero waste. It is not simplistic fixes such as “zero landfilling”. Or “100-percent recycling.” Rather, the Zero Waste movement is a journey. It is not about jars worth of trash. Or completely plastic-free consumption. Instead, it is changing the design of how we interact with materials. First, it uses less resources. Next it eliminates toxic materials. Then it builds things to last. Lastly, they reuse, recycle or compost. Currently, he is the executive director of Eco-Cycle International. They help communities become zero waste.
A former Manchester United footballer and his wife pioneered in launching a package-free shop. Richard Eckersley, 28, opened the Earth.Food.Love. This is Great Britain’s first Zero Waste store. It is an organic, bulk-buy, plant-based, wholefoods shop. They sell food products such as gluten-free goods with no packaging. British customers need only bring their own containers. They fill them up with what they want from the store. Then they pay based on the weight. It also is a great step for male zero wasters. Because Eckersley showed that family-run business can be eco friendly and highly profitable.
For those who scroll social media and blog sites, check out Jonathan Levy. He is a lifestyle blogger and zero waste supply chain consultant. Levy blogs with as much fervor as female bloggers. He constantly talks about the importance of thinking of the environment before convenience’s sake.
It is evident that women are the main stakeholders in the zero waste movement. But it doesn’t mean that men don’t care about the environment. They mostly do not care to show their efforts on social media. They prefer to do it without seeking affirmation from others. Also, some of the male zero wasters are the very pioneers of the movement since its inception in 1996. They are activists, scientists, store owners, bloggers, and men from all walks of life.
The Zero Waste Movement should not be seen as a feminine movement, but as a cause that both sexes and all genders can partake. After all, it’s not only women who live in this world. All of us should care enough about the Earth that we become more conscious on how we live