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Covering the ‘zero waste’ eco-movement

June 25, 2019

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The “zero waste” movement was born online, but it’s gaining real-world traction.(Image credit to Pixabay)

If you’ve never heard the term “zero waste” go on Instagram and you’ll find more than three million posts that espouse a lifestyle of sending as little to the landfill as possible. Some people have found a way to eliminate trash from their lives altogether.  It’s not just an online trend. The zero waste movement is gaining real-world traction.

Corporations bow to pressure

Large corporations are responsible for much of the plastic pollution in the world, but as going green becomes more popular, many companies have attempted to rebrand themselves as environmentally conscious. Even the largest grocery brand in the U.S., Kroger, has committed to eliminating plastic bags from its stores by 2025. Starbucks is bucking plastic straws in favor of strawless lids by 2020. Certain single use plastics might be banned in Canada by 2021.

The zero waste and larger eco-movement shuns consumer culture and single-use plastics. Some trends among the eco-conscious are thrift shopping, farmers markets and an activity called “plogging” or picking up trash while jogging. Do a little investigative work to see if these trends are gaining steam locally. Social media is a great way to get started.

‘Zero waste’ shops

Local zero waste shops have popped up all over the place to meet the demand for package free products. Has one of these stores opened in your area? This site aggregates zero waste shops in each state. Check it out and see how business is doing. Oftentimes, specialty shops are pricier so see how the the cost compares to your local grocery chain. Talk to the customers. People who go out of their way to shop local and package-free are obviously committed to their cause and might even be wiling to sit down for an interview. If you’re looking for an interesting business profile, ask the shop owner if they might like to be featured. You get an interesting clip, and they get free publicity. It’s a win-win!

Start your reporting:

• Being green is catching on, and companies are taking notice. Has your grocery store banned plastic bags? Has you local cafe swapped out their plastic straws for paper? How are restrictions and shifting public attitudes toward single use plastics impacting businesses and manufacturing? Check out this website created by an industry group defending single use plastic.

• It’s important to meet people who are involved in the cause you are covering. They can be valuable sources of information, and you can potentially interview them for a deeper story. Check out Meetup.com and see if there are zero waste meet-ups happening nearby.

• Keeping track of trends is a good way to see where money is being spent. Monitor topics on social media by following popular hashtags, like #zerowaste. If you notice a trending topic, you can be one of the first to report on it.


  • Madeline Ackley

    Madeline Ackley is a journalist born and raised in central Arizona. Madeline's reporting has been focused on community issues, immigration, policing and homelessness. She has previously worked as an intern on The Arizona Republic’s Breaking News Desk...

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