What’s the Difference?
Sustainable lifestyle and the zero-waste movement have similar goals and many similar lifestyle patterns, but are a little bit different. Those trying to live sustainably aim to lower their overall environmental impact in a variety of ways, while the primary focus of those living zero-waste is typically to reduce the amount of trash they produce, namely single-use plastic.
For example, someone whose primary goal is to live zero-waste and produce zero trash may be comfortable eating meat that was purchased without any plastic. But someone aiming to live a well-rounded, sustainable lifestyle may consider the bigger picture (aka the massive environmental impact and ethical concerns of animal agriculture) and opt for a plant-based meal instead, even if it is packaged in plastic.
Many proponents of the zero-waste lifestyle have taken to calling it the low-impact movement instead, to help shift the focus beyond trash and plastic, and towards lowering one’s overall impact. All that being said, the terms zero-waste lifestyle, low-impact lifestyle, and sustainable lifestyle are often used interchangeably, since they have the same fundamental goal: to lower one’s environmental impact.