The Zero Way
What is The Zero Way?
What is The Zero Way? you ask.
This read right here might be daunting at first, but don't worry, there's no rush to finish it in one sit. You will see yourself coming back to this page. It will stick to your mind. It will make you curious. You'll come back for more.
The Zero Way is a concept born by the combination of two different cultures, mindsets and lifestyles. The Zero Way is the love child between the Western concept of “Zero Waste” and the Eastern concept of “Kaizen” (meaning “continuous improvement” and was extensively applied in “The Toyota Way” system). The result, a charming offspring called “The Zero Way”.
It is a concept developed by Bianca Yamaguchi, a business consultant in sustainability, who has lived on 3 continents throughout her life (European born, North American raised and working in Japan) and has picked up all the fascinating ideas she could find around these two subjects [zero waste and kaizen], beautifully blending them together to create an elegantly simple and universal equation of how one could live and work in a sustainable, ethical way.
About “Zero Waste”
The Zero Waste concept emerged from the waste management industry and it encompases all the processes necessary to reduce waste, aiming of course, for absolutely no waste at all, hence the name “zero waste”. Initially it was referred to include just industrial waste, but over the last few years it has been extended to everyday life, thanks to Bea Johnson, working wife and mother of 2, whose yearly household trash could fit in a jar. After she became viral on social media, the western world has understood the need for reducing both household waste and waste at the workplace. Zero waste has since then become very common and is gradually gaining more ground and social media coverage.
It encompasses all the actions that lead to reducing one’s waste in the household and/or at the workplace, covering all categories of trash, from plastic to food scraps. It is based on these 4 pillars: minimalism, reuse, recycling and composting.
Kaizen, an old Japanese concept efficiently used and beautifully developed by Kenichiro Toyoda, the founder of the number one company in the world for many years - Toyota Motors Corporation - has been accepted by the business world as one of the most efficient manufacturing systems since the birth of the industrial age. Most Japanese and lately big global companies have built their own system based on the concept of kaizen. Like “The IBM Way” or “The 6 Sigma”, just to mention a few.
The two Chinese characters that make up the word - “改” and “善” - together they mean “continuous improvement”. However, there is an entire philosophy created around this word. One of the core philosophies is, surprise surprise, the elimination of all types of waste from the system, scratch that, from the entire supply chain, all the way from sourcing materials to the customer. Continuously eliminating everything that is superfluous, thus continuously improving the system, making it more “lean”, lead to a more efficient and cost-effective way of doing business, extended on all the levels inside and outside a company.
With this said, just like initially the concept of zero waste has been used in the waste industry and eventually made its way to our daily life, I think it’s high time we introduce this concept of “kaizen” into our daily life, too. However, the reason why this isn’t yet “a thing”, is because the concept was incomplete and there was no direct channel to bring “The Toyota Way” to our household.
Until today, when, by reading this book, by internalizing “The Zero Way”, you, alongside its founder, Bianca Yamaguchi, will become the pioneer and probably the first person in your town/city to apply this concept.
Isn’t that exciting? You and me, we are creating the future, right here, right now. The buzzing of your brain after reading this book, will soon turn into a symphony of amazing actions that, like a butterfly’s wings create a tsunami on the other side of the world, will lead to a better, more sustainable, more ethical and cleaner environment, business and life for you, your family and peers.
Zero Waste + Kaizen < The Zero Way
But, as you know, the whole [The Zero Way] is greater than the sum of it two parts [Zero Waste and Kaizen]. The Zero Way is not just the blind combination of the two philosophies, it’s a finely tuned system. A unique equilibrium, a harmonious dance between two completely different cultures that share the same heart. It’s also a universal recipe, that transcends the cultures that it emerged from.
About The Origin of Waste
I think it is not necessary to say how important and imperious it is for each independent individual on this planet to be more conscious of their consumerist ways, or of the way they do business. It is a widely known fact that the amount of waste that is generated in the world every second exceeds the capacity of our planet to dispose of it. And that, if we don’t act like yesterday, the planet will overflow with waste during our lifetime. Sooner than you think.
What is unfortunately not well known is the fact that the planet needed billions of years to create the perfect balance for the evolution of life on Earth. A balance we have been gradually destroying only in the last 50 years, coinciding with, guess, the invention of coal-burning generation of electricity. The excess of carbon that the planet has worked for EONS to suppress and hold under the surface in order to have the perfect equation for sustaining life on earth has been released into the atmosphere and biosphere in just 50 years. I am talking about coal and petrol. It has been under the surface of the earth’s crust for a reason. And now it’s out there, gradually destroying life as we speak. Including human life. Slowly, painfully.
Let’s Talk About The Immortal Elephant in The Room - Plastic
Burning coal for electricity and releasing it in the air as CO2 is one way we take from the underground and throw on the surface of the planet. The other way is… well… plastic. Plastic is made by the (unnatural) processing of petrol, raisins and other chemicals. As such, it is a completely new and man-made compound. One which nature does not have the power to decompose (yet?). Yes, we have discovered a (some called creature, others just an enzyme) that can dissolve plastic. But don’t get too excited, it might take tens of years before we will be able to discover, control and put together a safe way to gather and decompose the plastic (in biological compounds, not microplastic) that we have so carelessly released in our waters, soils and… streets for the last 50 years.
Not All is Bleak
I will take this time to share my gratitude for the industrial age, including the invention of plastic. Plastic is not all bad. If not for the invention of the plastic polymers, we couldn’t have advances in science, medicine, electronics, and all the other aspects of humanity. We wouldn’t have reached the great level that we are today without it. Thank you coal, petrol, electricity, plastic and the great human minds of the past (and present) centuries!
However! As grateful as I am (and we should all be) to the invention of plastic polymers and its derivatives, we can’t stop here, what I am not grateful for is to the fact that industries have made this invention a common, cheap, convenient commodity. It gave us the impression that we can use it and dispose of it lightly, as if there are no serious consequences.
Because there are HUGE consequences to this light-hearted use of plastics in our everyday life. It’s time we understand that plastic should not be the what we make it today - conveniently discarding. Plastic should be considered a luxury! And I repeat, plastic is a luxury, not a commodity. Because, in this current day and age, the careless, almost blind (and not enoughly regulated in some countries) use and disposal of plastic is damaging our entire biosphere - our oceans, our soils, our air, our animals, plants, and… ultimately… our own bodies!
Wait. What? It’s damaging our bodies?
Well, consider this:
a) we have never actually studied the long term effect of the accumulated amount of plastic that goes through our hands, bodies and environment. Plastic is a very recent discovery in human history. There have only been short-term studies on each type of plastic, but never before on the long-term effect of the combined effect of plastics in our life.
b) plastic is an unnatural compound. It is entirely a concoction of the human mind. It is not found anywhere in nature, so, when disposed of, nature has no use for it, making it, well… immortal. In nature, industrial plastic (not the biodegradable one) never disappears. It just decomposes in smaller pieces called microplastic. It has been found across our entire food chain, including in the most precious source of human life on earth - breast milk.
As such, a compound that is not part of the harmonious biological ecosystem we are part of and naturally strive in, does not disappear. It just piles up or somewhere on Earth or enters the food chain through microplastics.
So, Bianca, what you’re saying is that plastic is good, but also bad. So, what do we do about it?
The only real problem with plastic is that we’ve been using it wrong. Plastic’s greatest feature, its “foreverness”, only becomes a bad thing only when used for, you guessed it, short-term needs.
I mean, using plastic’s longevity for single-use purposes, to be completely honest, it’s the stupidest thing humankind has ever done to itself - right next to the election of Tr... uhm… Hitler!
Why are we doing this to ourselves? Because we allow us to do it. Just like we know the negative side effects of alcohol or of processed foods, we still consume them. Because, sorry to break this out to you, we are not completely in control of our lives. We let ourselves be guided by what we see on TV, magazines, lately on social media, or by a bunch of people who don’t always have our best interest in mind. By what we have been told by others: by our parents and our peers and so on.
Our Current Situation
We have come to the sad conclusion that we don’t have a choice any more. That the consumerist system the entire economy is based on, is, well, not in our power any more. It is in the power of the big corporations that rule the world. And those corporations are out of control, too. Mostly because of the delicious promise made by the huge amount of money involved.
Most of us work 9 to 5 just to be able to survive. We can only afford what is cheap. We don’t have time for ourselves, let alone to think about the planet. It’s hard, isn’t it? Most of us don’t have the money, the time or the education for a better life.
And what about those of us who do have the financial possibility, time and education and are actually making money? We think the pursuit of money is the only best thing we can do for ourselves. And nothing will change that, because, let’s be honest, we are striving inside our current environment, so why change?
If that’s you, don’t stop reading this book.
You and I - Two Peas in The Same Pod
I was born in a poor family and when I graduated university, I didn’t know how to make money other than busting my ass off for minimum wage working for somebody else in a job I didn’t educate myself in. When I became a single mother in a foreign country, for the first 3 years, I worked paycheck to paycheck.
Then I hit the jackpot and got a corporate job. I thought I made it. But, to be honest, nothing really changed. I had money, but I still wasn’t free. I was overweight, tired all the time, concerned for everything under the sun except what I really wanted to do. I didn’t have time for my daughter or time to change anything in my life.
So I get it. I have been there. I have been through the rat race. The poor people’s rat race and the new rich people’s rat race. Having money didn’t give me freedom. Not having money didn’t give me time. It’s not that simple.
Taking control of our lives is hard. And seldom do we all have access to the right information for us in this abundant pool of information, in this overflowing race for one’s attention. Everybody is famous now. Everybody thinks they know everything and wants your attention. And your money for that matter. We are not in control of our choices any more, because we are too confused of what’s best for us any more. Too overflowed with information, especially info that has no base in science and is mostly just somebody’s opinion.
What about this book? Isn’t this book the same?
No. This book is based on science and evidence. As you’ll see, I have written only info that is based on research, took only the words of specialists in their field and combined my expertise in two different well researched fields (zero waste and kaizen) to give you a guide that will help you gain more control of your life, have a better eagle’s eye image of the current situation of humanity and a deeper understanding of how you personally fit in the global puzzle.
So, before I go deep into this discussion, I want to ask you this:
Take my words with a grain of salt and only apply to your life whatever you think fits your needs, But! Never forget how your actions influence the world around you, both the world that you see, and the one that never reaches your eyes or ears.
How Your Actions Influence The Rest of The World
In the same way the flaps of the wings of a butterfly can create a tsunami on the other side of the world, the smallest of your actions can have tremendous effects somewhere on the other side of the world. I’ll give you an example. The concept of “fair trade” is based on this butterfly effect. The simple action of you sipping coffee in the morning can affect how much a child from Ethiopia will eat that day.
Corporations that don’t care about where the coffee comes from are a direct influence of the fact that you don’t care. If suddenly everybody would stop light-heartedly buying non-fair-trade coffee, corporations would know customers care and they will start to care, too.
But since you don’t care where your coffee comes from, they don’t care.
If you are thinking “But I don’t have time, nor money to care about all the little things I consume every day, or the things I buy”, I want you to know this:
You don’t need a hole lot of time or money to make ethical choices. You just need to become more aware. You don’t have to suddenly change every single consumerist hobby.
As long as you sometimes stop and ask yourself - where does this come from? You will sometimes see a video of a dead whale on your friend’s feed. You will sometimes see an article for alternatives to plastic. Just follow that natural curiosity and check it out. See if you can apply that in your life.
For example, now. You’ve heard about how fair trade products are an ethical choice, how they help you positively influence the unseen world, now you can’t unsee it. You better check out the products that have the fair trade mark next time you go shopping, most of the time they are right next to the other ones you usually buy. Reach out for those instead. They might be a bit pricier, but remember - you have in your hands the choice: feed a hungry Ethiopian family or let their child go to sleep with an empty belly tonight. I don’t know about you, but if I knew I had the opportunity to spend a few extra cents to feed a child and DIDN’T, I couldn’t sleep at night… Can you?
How Your Habits Make You a Superhero
Now let’s put all the above pieces together. We’ve talked about waste aka where products end up. We’ve talked about the origins of a product. We’ve talked about how your choice influences the world. By now you can understand that nothing is as simple as our corporations try so hard to makes us believe. But we knew that right? We just didn’t know how they all influence us personally and what we can do about.
Everything in our world is connected to everything. You are directly connected to this let’s call it network. You are one piece of the immense and never-ending (hopefully) domino game. What you do every second has repercussions, whether you see them or not.
You may not realize it now, but by the end of this book I will show you how you can be a superhero! I promise. If you don’t think so, I’ll give you your money back! Oh, wait, this is free, hmm. You don’t have to become a volunteer in Cambodia or get bitten by a radioactive spider.
Now, jokes aside, what is the most effective way to change your actions and become this superhero I’m talking about? It’s so simple, you’d probably want to hit me.
That’s right. Changing your habits will make you a better person, even a superhero, no matter what domain we are talking about. Changing your consumer habits will not only make you a superhero, but it might very well bring about that world peace we all low-key hope for.
And I’ll show you everything you need to know to start this thrilling journey. I will tell you how consumerism works, how you fit in it and how you can change it. I will give you the information that will liberate you, that will figuratively give you a new pair of eyes. At the end of this book you will not only have a completely rewired brain, but your actions will automatically be taken by themselves. Because information is power.
Little do the powerful people of the world want you to know - YOU have the power, not them.
So if there’s only ONE thing I want you to take away from this book, it’s this:
“The riches of the few are based entirely on the fears of the hardworking many. You have the power to shift the balance in your favor at any given second. Zero in on your fears. Be a Zero Hero.”
I hope The Zero Way will set you free, too. Enjoy!
Deep Dive into The Zero Way
What actually is The Zero Way?
I want you to see The Zero Way as a car with 5 components:
Mentality + Feelings + Tools + Choices + Goals = The Zero Way
The Mentality is the mechanics of the car, the science, what makes the car physically able to work.
Your Feelings are the fuel of the car.
The Tools are the physical car itself, what it’s made of and how it’s put together.
Your Choices are the driver.
That Goals are the destination of the car, or the reason you’re driving it in the first place.
You cannot move the car if any of your components are missing, right?
And, as any car, it also needs a destination, a direction to move towards, and a street, a path to move on. This street is called “The Zero Way”. All those components moving through time - your time. The Path that you choose to follow the becomes your Lifestyle, and it comes with a set of rules that everybody needs to follow in order for there to be harmonious traffic.
Let’s also not forget that one can never become a driver, if there is no practice, right?
If the car analogy is confusing, let me put is simply:
The Zero Way is not ONE thing, but a holistic SYSTEM.
The Zero Way is the who, the how, the when and where, and ultimately the why.
It’s like a filter. What you think, feel and act every day go through this zero way glasses. Every choice you make every second has once passed this filter. Once you have read, understood and decided to follow The Zero Way, you will see the world differently, you will feel things you haven’t felt before and your habits and choices would be now influenced by this new mentality.
“Once you zee* it, you can’t unzee it” Unless you want to :)
*to zee (or to z) = to process something through The Zero Way filter.
The Zero Way Recipe:
Think Different. Feel Strong. Choose Wise. Act Bold. Aim Big. Believe.
The Zero Way thus is (in no particular order):
A holistic system that encompasses all of the below elements:
A lifestyle that leads to a more satisfying life
A mentality that helps you make more qualitative decisions
A choice to lead a better and more sustainable life
A continuous process of improvement with long-term effects
The elimination of waste, aka everything that is unnecessary from our lives
A set of easy-to-follow rules
A challenge to constantly self-improve
A philosophy that brings balance
A responsibility towards: ourselves, our family, community and the environment
A set of skills, habits, tools and a bag of knowledge which help you gain total control over your life
A chance to connect with your local community
In one sentence: It’s the Recipe for a Sustainable Lifestyle.
Have you heard of the United Nations’ SDGs? (Sustainable Development Goals) If not, it’s time you give it a thorough google. It’s one of the most important pieces of information of our era that every single human being should know. In a few words, the SDGs are the 17 global goals that each one of us, as global citizens, should strive to accomplish as a community by 2030.
The Zero Way positively affects each and every one of those 17 goals in a direct or indirect way. Like I said, you can become a global superhero by internalizing the concepts of this book and consistently applying them to your life.
What The Zero Way is NOT?
A “philosophical, non-scientific crap”
“Another tree-hugging movement”
It is not just about garbage
It’s not even about recycling
It is not just a goal, but a holistic process
It is not a utopia - it’s neither impossible, nor idealistic
It is not meant to be perfect, miraculous or magical
It is not difficult, unless you make it
It is not costly, unless you make it
It is not time-consuming, unless you make it
It is definitely not a religion or a sect
It's not something that only some people can do
Please message me if you have any other biases or preconceptions about something I invented, thanks >> (legit address)
Now that we know what the zero way is and isn’t, let’s decompose the concept and see what are its elements, and dive deeply into them, too.
The Mentality of The Zero Way
The 2 main mentalities behind The Zero Way, as I’ve explained in the Introduction, are the Western concept of Zero Waste and the Eastern concept of Kaizen. But before I talk about them in detail, I need to take some time to explain about how our current day globally accepted system - consumerism - works and why it is imperfect.
Consumerism is the single most important human activity, because we are not self-sustaining beings. We need to buy and consume on a regular basis. There’s no way around it. But what exactly is “consumerism”? Note that it is not the act itself of consuming something, but has a different, more complex meaning:
Consumerism is a cultural model that promotes the acquisition of goods in ever-increasing amounts, for the purpose of satisfying personal needs and desires of the user and increase economic gains for the suppliers.
So far so good. There are people who have needs and desires. And there are those who can provide a satisfaction of those needs and desires. There is an exchange between the two parties and everybody is happy.
Not quite. Notice the model says “acquisition of goods in ever-increasing amounts”. This is no joke, our entire society is based on a model of “continuous increase of the number of goods”. Which would work perfectly fine - and has worked fine so far - if there was an infinite amounts of goods on this planet. However, we live on a finite planet.
That’s the problem: Our entire economic system is based on something called “a linear economy”. This system can be illustrated below:
Source - Produce - Sell - Consume - Dispose. Rinse. Repeat.
It has a starting point - the collection of the raw materials from the Earth and has an end - disposing the product at the end of its life. This is called a product’s “Life” or Lifecycle. This way of thinking - that the product has a beginning and end - is called a linear system. The economy is based on a linear system and so it is called a Linear Economy. Makes sense, yeah? On a planet with infinite resources, this system would work perfectly.
However, this model is much too simple. It doesn’t quite explain the reality. Let alone the fact that this system also needs people and money to complete it, it also misses a few important adjectives, like the illustration below:
Source - Produce - Sell - Consume - Dispose
Source more, cheaper faster - Produce more, cheaper, faster - Consume more, chesper, faster - Dispose more cheaper, faster
Repeat! More MORE MOOOREE!! Who cares if people die of preverntable diseases, overwork, pollution, who cares? We don’t! We just want more, faster, cheaper!!!
Which, again, on an infinite planet - no problem! Right?
But, as we all know, our planet’s resources are not only finite, but some of them are disappearing. And fast.
So… what’s the solution then? You ask.
Simple: gradually but surely shifting from a linear economy to a circular economy.
What’s a circular economy?
An economy that runs following the model:
Source used materials - Produce - Sell - Consume - Repair/Remanufacture/Upcycle - Sell - Consume - Repair/Remanufacture/Upcycle - Sell - Consume and so on.
Just like its name suggests, is based on a circular, cyclical system, like shown above. The product’s life doesn’t start with collecting new raw materials unless completely necessary and unavoidable. It starts with collecting materials that are already in the cycle, for example the waste of a different process or industry.
In the same way, at the end of a product’s life… well… actually there won’t be an end, because that product will continue to be inside the system for as long as possible. It will be reused, repaired, remade, refurbished, remanufactured, upcycled in one word: reborn :)
Recycling is one idea of a circular system, but unfortunately recycling is the most inefficient way to deal with our products.
Because 1) The process of recycling consumes a lot of energy and other resources;
2) The materials cannot be 100% retrieved at the same value as we have produced it, it will always be of lower quality. It takes for example 5 bottles to recycle in order to create one bottle.
3) The collection and processing of the recycled materials is more costly and time-consuming, making the recycled product more expensive than if we were to use raw materials.
One way in which the industry is trying to combat this is by introducing the concept of “cradle to cradle”. Cradle to cradle is the circular economy told in a different way. It simply means the rebirth of a disposed product - hence the beautiful metaphor of the cradle.
I won’t go deeper into this. I suggest watching “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard. Then watching a video about “Cradle to Cradle” by William McDonough. It will make things clearer for you. I want to keep this book brief, as much as possible. Sorry about that.
Time to set the First Destination of our Zero Way
Now that you understand how our economy works and that the linear economy is not efficient and sustainable on the long-run, because it’s based on a model of infinite resources that is being used on a finite planet, it’s time to set goal number one #1.
So, goal #1 when starting the journey to The Zero Way is, drum rolls please:
Shift our economy from a linear one to a circular one.
Huge goal, huh? Well, don’t worry. Remember that even your smallest actions can have big consequences. I promised to show you how you can become a superhero. And what’s a superhero to do if there’s no goal bigger than life to challenge them to grow superpowers, am I right?
Also, you are not alone. A man’s small action, multiplied by millions of people, drives change. You are one of them. You have the power. Believe.
Think Cycles. Feel Strong. Choose Wise. Act Bold. Aim Big. Believe.
Humans (and most animals for that matter) feel emotions. Emotions are but a chemical reaction inside our brain. Remember that at the beginning of the chapter I talked about the car metaphor? Most of the actions we make are fueled either by an emotion or an instinct, in which case it’s called a “reaction”.
Instincts are survival mechanisms. They help you to stay alive and to strive to be healthy. Sometimes these instincts fail us and we begin a downward spiral of self-destruction, but most of us are wired to survive.
Emotions are at the core of our motivation. Emotions are very powerful. The most powerful emotion is probably fear. Because it is based upon the instinct of survival. If I am afraid, I am motivated to search for a way to survive. Fear has pushed mankind to the edge that it is today.
And while emotions cannot be controlled, the way you react to them makes the difference.
People’s emotion can be manipulated. Fear is the number one that companies use to influence us. Whether or not they do it on purpose or without knowing is beyond the point. It doesn’t matter. Marketing companies have found the recipe for mind manipulation, it doesn’t matter whether they understand if it’s ethical or not.
The point is, the reason why you feel like you are not in control of your life is because you are not in control of the reactions to your own fear.
I’ll give you an example: When you see a CM about shampoo on TV, you may not be consciously aware of it, but they’re tapping on your fear of not being valued by your peers because of your appearance. When you see a CM about medicine on TV, you guessed it, they are tapping into your fear of disease - on the very core of your survival instincts. This is Marketing 101 right here.
When someone has the upper hand and they possess something that makes your fear go away, something you don’t own, you are motivated to buy. The more trustworthy the promise, the more money one is ready to spend on a product.
This explains everything from the insane price of luxury products, to the reason why we buy products that we don’t need just to make us feel better.
It is also a human instinct to want more. Because having more taps into the fear of running out of resources. That is why some of us feel like we never own enough or that there is always something better that will make us feel safer.
This type of psychological game that marketers in any company use is, well, not their fault. They just don’t know better. If it sounds unethical, it probably is. But it’s too common to combat.
What we need to do next is to understand what we are most afraid of. The biggest and least known fear is “the fear of missing out” (on the good stuff). That usually motivates early adopters to stand in line at the store when a new product is released.
Here’s a little exercise for you. Look around the house.
What are your most expensive products? Do you need them? Are there any ethical alternatives to them?
What do you spend the most money on every month? Why? What’s your greatest fear behind it?
Pick 3 random things that you own. Ask yourself, what do you feel about them? Why? What was the fear behind the reason you bought them?
Now, changing the subject. Another type of feeling I want to talk about is the fact that you can choose how to react to your feelings. There are ways to react to every feeling. Including fear. Just as is the <fight or flight> instinct, you can train yourself to react to your fears and emotions in general. When you are excited, you can choose how to show it. When you are afraid of getting old, you can choose whether to compulsively buy a whole box of aging creams, or whether to accept that any age has its charms and choose to enjoy spending an amazing your time with the ones you love instead.
Tools of Shifting Towards The Zero Way
There are three big periods of The Zero Way.
The beginning, or The Big Shift. A period of change, assimilation, trial&error. Perseverance.
The experienced period, when everything now comes natural and you don’t have to really think about it. Just keep acting accordingly. Curiosity.
Expert stage, when you are ready to teach others and become more knowledgeable, detail-oriented and begin to ask for the same level of interest from the companies you buy from. Strictness.
The first one is obviously the beginning. The big shift in your life. The moment you decide “I’ll do it!”, where everything is fuzzy, confusing, where there’s an influx of new, sometimes conflicting information. It’s a period of change, of little wins and small failures.
The keyword to getting over this period is for sure Perseverance. It will get gradually better and easier to do. I promise. Change has always been hard. So don’t sweat too much. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It doesn’t have to be perfect from the first time. Everything is just a process of - here it is - continuous improvement, or kaizen.
Start with what you can do right now. Kaizen is also called “the art of small incremental changes”. So start small and cheap.
There will be times when you want to give up, you forget about it, you get blocked. That is completely normal and understandable. Do it at your own pace. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. If you feel not motivated enough, remember why you are doing it. You want to become the superhero, right? Read the special pages you help write, “The Motivational Speech” and plan a little change for tomorrow.
What products an I looking for?
First question you need ask yourself anytime you buy something is: Do I really need it? Why? What fear does it tap into? Can I live without?
If you do need it, the next question would be: Are there any sustainable alternatives? Are they hard to implement? Do they cost money? Extra time? Do they inconvenience me in any way?
If there are no good alternatives, you can even go further as to ask yourself: can I make it? You might be able to find yourself building a company around this new product idea.
If there are alternatives, are they really sustainable and ethical? Read the company mission and CSR page. We often never think of a company’s CSR so more often than not there is no actual real value-creating content to that page.
A perfectly zero way product would either be:
Not just the product itself needs to be zero way, but the entire manufacturing process behind its making needs to be zero way. And that’s what makes it almost impossible to achieve a perfect zero way score.
So, we are left with the difficult decision of scoring every product we buy and the company that makes it.
What a headache, eh?
Well, not quite! Finding high scoring zero way products can be solved with a little checklist:
As long as the
In case of: A) Long-lasting materials and services: reusability, upcyclability, repairability, ease of maintenance, ethical sourcing, shareability
In case of B) Ethically sourced, local materials and collection of compost
Services must be:
However, scrutinizing the companies might be hard. Especially when you don’t have time or access to their factories and/or headquarters. But this is where the CSR page comes in. This is where the fair trade and other certifications come in. It’s time the demand for corporate transparency increases and that’s where your most important action needs to be taken. Your biggest responsibility as a zero way hero is to make yourself heard.
The Importance of Your Voice
I told you at the beginning of the book that in you lays the power to change the world. That you can become a superhero. Where this is how.
Now, in your hands lies the “Zero Way Superpower”. And with great power comes…? Yes, great responsibility. And this responsibility of increasing demand for sustainable, ethical products is the greatest thing you can do for your future self and those you love.
You have two types of “voice”. You have the obvious voice of your words. Letting companies know what you want/need. You can do this by expressing your opinions on the companies’ social media outlets or by contacting them directly through their customer support emailing system.
But you also have another incredible voice - the “voice of money”. You’ve heard this before I’m sure: “Put your money where your mouth is”. Well, to be honest, you don’t even need to speak much, the way you spend your money speaks for itself.
If you start buying sustainable products instead of your usual brands, companies will notice. And companies will change, because that’s what they do.
I want to take a second to talk about a very common question I am asked: “What will happen with the companies that survive only by providing cheap plastic products, like the Chinese companies for example? Won’t they fail altogether leading to a worldwide collapse of the economy?”
I always put on the most positive smile I can and answer “No”.
Businesses change, pivot, merge, close all the time. New companies emerge. Products evolve all the time, and lately very fast. No change in the consumer’s behaviour is that sudden that it will collapse the economy (unless we suddenly die by the billions, knock on wood). Companies that sell cheap plastic products, or any kind of unethical, unsustainable products will receive a wake-up call that it’s time to change their business models.
Especially the Chinese people? They’re the most resilient, creative people I know. They’ll be fine.
People were scared that veganism will disturb the meat and dairy industry, but today, when the number of vegans grows exponentially every year, meat and dairy companies have started investing in vegan alternatives and they’re striving.
Everybody will be fine. Not just fine, but better than before. Because The Zero Way will just be the next big step for humankind. It will reverse many of humankind’s problem that started with the industrial revolution.
The Zero Way is like a cleansing of the old ways to make space for the new, more sustainable, ethical ways. It may look like it is a step back towards the natural way that humans were interacting with nature before the invention of coal-generating energy and plastic, but two steps forward into a better, smarter, cleaner society and sustainable, ethical equitable business ways.
A few keywords to help you out:
#minimalist #long-lasting #biodegradable #local #natural #non-GMO #organic #reusable #repair
#DIY #multi-use #community #sustainable #green #zero-waste #circular-economy #cradle-to-cradle
#fair-trade #ethical #cruelty-free #love #rich-experience #deeper-human-relationships