Who Participates in Zero Waste?: Facilitators of and barriers to participation in the Zero Waste movement


  • Ella Kim-Marriott




Drawing primarily on concepts from McAdams, Tindall, Inglehart and Gillham, this study narrows its focus on a particularly understudied and newly formed social movement: The zero waste movement. This paper grounds itself on indicators for who will participate in various social movements found in the social movement theory literature, indulging in themes of costs/risks, biographical availability, social networks and value alignment. I conducted interviews with five participants residing in Vancouver, B.C., to shed light on how lived experiences can account for the divergence between environmentalists who participate in zero waste versus those who do not. Ultimately, this study identifies the zero waste movement as a low-risk, high-cost social movement, in which biographical availability and strong social ties (specifically, living or working in close spatial proximity to other zero wasters) are factors contributing to zero waste movement participation. The discussion of this paper recommends intersectional studies factoring in gender and race characteristics, social media influences, and how individuals overcome barriers to participation as areas for future research.