During the first week of September every year, Rachelle Strauss launches a campaign called Zero Waste Week to raise awareness and provide resources for reducing household waste. Strauss’ efforts have not gone unnoticed: the hashtag #zerowasteweek has trended on Twitter in recent years, and the campaign has been featured in publications like The Guardian and National Geographic. Strauss herself appears alongside actor Jeremy Irons in the award-winning documentary Trashed.
This year, Zero Waste Week has officially come to the United States, with the New Southerner leading the way. Since the movement originated in 2008 in the UK, it has gained traction across the globe, with participation in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and more, but this is the first time there has been a page dedicated to the US. And guess who created the page? Our very own sustainable magazine! You can follow along with our progress and see how we’re putting our country on the map here.
I am thrilled to have New Southerner join Strauss and the 35+ million other participants who seek to shrink the ecological footprint of our daily lives. This is a year-round effort, of course, but reserving a week to focus on “zero waste” offers many benefits. It reminds us of the goal of zero waste, which is simply to approach a circular economy as best we can, particularly by sending as little as possible to landfill. It humbles us, and reminds us of the room for improvement. It gives us a chance to celebrate our achievements. It opens our sphere of influence to bring others along on the sustainability journey. This year, Strauss has featured tools like “Make it Mend it Monday” and “Trashless Tuesday,” and her teachings are not only resourceful, but have mass appeal; the community formed around Zero Waste Week is an encouraging rather than a judgemental one, and it’s never too late to join. You can sign up for free here, and help spread the message by using the hashtag #zerowasteweek when you share your own related content or borrow resources from the Zero Waste Week website.
Maggie Brown, the Editor-in-Chief of New Southerner, is an Associate Professor at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College, where she has taught writing, literature, film studies, and rock & roll lit. She resides in Louisville, Kentucky, and enjoys giving talks and leading workshops about her experiences with the zero waste and vegan lifestyles. Her philosophy is that sustainability for the planet perfectly aligns with sustainability for the self. She’d love to hear from you at maggie [at] newsoutherner [dot] com.