Low Waste vs. Zero Waste: What's the Difference?

Low Waste vs. Zero Waste: What's the Difference?

You've probably heard the terms, but what are the differences between these two movements? Welcome to Park Market & Refillery's first ever blog post! This has been a long time in the making and we’re glad you’re here with us. Through the Park Blog, we look forward to covering a variety of topics from sustainable and conscious living to environmental justice. We hope you enjoy and welcome suggestions on topics you’d like covered.

So chances are you’ve heard the terms “low waste” or “zero waste” – do they mean the same thing? If not, what are some of the differences between these two movements? In both cases, the overarching goal is to cut down on the amount of waste that is produced. Not buying more than one needs, looking for more sustainable, environmentally-friendly options and prioritizing the first two Rs of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” are overlapping themes seen in both movements. While “zero waste” takes on a more drastic approach, “low waste” has less of a set-in-stone definition. Let’s start with low waste. Here at Park Market & Refillery, we define our business as a “low waste” living refillery. We try to eliminate or cut down on single-use plastic and packaging as much as we possibly can, including on the back end with our suppliers. However, there are some instances where some waste just can’t be avoided. For example, we aim to create a ‘closed loop’ or ‘circular’ system for transporting coffee beans all the way from our growers to our customers. We use food safe pails, which we reuse with our roaster, but the beans are still transported from grower to roaster in burlap sacks. The burlap sacks and the emissions of transport create waste. As a result, we cannot definitively call the process “zero waste”, however significant effort goes into making the process as low waste as possible.

When it comes to “zero waste”, the Zero Waste International Alliance defines the phrase as “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health”. Both zero waste and low waste have a strong environmental focus, in striving for the reduction of waste products that end up in landfill, waterways and the natural environment.

On a personal consumer/behaviour level, the two movements are extremely similar. Whether you decide to take on a “low waste” or a “zero waste” lifestyle, it is a step in the right direction towards decreasing your environmental impact.

Thanks for reading friends. To check out our low waste products at Park, visit our Online Shop.