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Now is the time of zero! - Lighter Body and Mind

  

What is ZERO trend?

  Typical examples of zero trends include zero waste, zero sugar, and zero flour (gluten-free).

A combination of zero, the number zero, and waste, meaning to waste, zero waste has become a proper noun used worldwide. The term can be traced back to Daniel Knapp's concept of total recycling, which he founded in the 1980s to address the waste problem caused by rapid industrialization.At the same time, municipalities across the U.S. have been campaigning for composting, recycling, and waste diversion.Zero Waste has been a social movement since 2010. Bea Johnson, a French-American woman living in California, began sharing her family's zero-waste journey on her blog, Zero Waste Home, in 2008, and claimed that the amount of trash she generated in a year was contained in a single glass jar. In 2010, her story was featured in the New York Times, and Zero Waste became a huge environmental movement that has spread to millions of individuals. The 5 R's - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot - that she emphasized also became widespread. We can see the essence of Zero Waste in the fact that it was started by an individual, not a company or a country, and has spread around the world. It's not often that everyday practices spread to consumption, culture, and environmental movements. It's a powerful and unprecedented global rallying cry and way of life.

 The latest trend in beverages and food is "zero sugar," with a wide variety of zero sugar products gaining popularity. The “God”+”Life”(hard working life) movement, which is all about self-care and living a diligent life, continues to be a popular trend in 2023. It all started with Healthy Pleasure. A combination of Healthy and Pleasure, the phrase means "take care of your health with pleasure". The idea is to move away from painful diets and strict discipline, and instead, make exercise fun, eat food that tastes good and feels good, and take care of your health sustainably. The idea of enjoying a healthy and joyful life has appeared in the form of 'zero sugar' in the domestic food industry. You may have seen sugar-free ice cream, sugar-free sweets, and sugar-free drinks in convenience stores and supermarkets. The flavors are similar, but the calories are drastically reduced by removing the sugar.The sugar-free market continues to grow because it's not a "stressful diet," but rather a way to eat healthier foods on a daily basis without too much pain. Global statistics show that in 2022, 432 trillion units of carbonated beverages were sold worldwide, with a whopping 18% of those being sugar-free. That means one out of every five cans was zero. The trend is even stronger in South Korea, where zero soda accounted for a whopping 24.9% (950 billion) of the $3.816 trillion in soda sales, or one in four cans. More and more zero beverages are appearing on convenience store shelves, and more people are ordering zero colas around them, so it's not just a feeling, it's a number. Consumers at McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants are ordering Zero Coke to feel better after eating high-calorie burgers and fries.

 

 Zero flour, or gluten-free, refers to the fact that gluten is the ingredient that makes flour dough chewy. Gluten is widely used in bread, noodles, and other sweets and processed foods. It's insoluble in water, which gives it a chewy texture, so most of the breads and cakes we eat contain gluten. Gluten-free means "-free," meaning that the food is gluten-free and is made with rice flour or potato starch. Gluten-free was developed for people who need to limit their flour intake for health reasons, such as celiac disease, which causes problems when they eat gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which an intolerance to gluten damages the small intestine, which can lead to intestinal damage, poor nutrient absorption, and physical pain. However, in recent years, many people who are not allergic to gluten have sought out gluten-free products as part of their health and dietary regimens. This is partly because many people who feel bloated after eating flour have reported less digestive discomfort after starting a gluten-free diet. In fact, according to global market research firm Euromonitor, the global gluten-free market is expected to grow from $858.9 million in 2021 to $11.623 billion by 2026. South Korea has its own gluten-free cafe, “Minimize”, which has gone viral on Instagram. True to its name, the cafe aims to "minimize the bad" and uses minimal cane sugar in its desserts and is completely gluten-free. All of Minimize’s menu items are characterized by a luxurious sweetness that comes from the use of good ingredients, making it a ray of light for "bread-eaters" who work out but can't give up bread.

 

Various ways to practice zero waste

In addition to food, the Zero Waste Shop is an eco-friendly store that practices 'zero waste' by selling eco-friendly household products that minimize waste, such as no packaging, no plastic, upcycling, and multi-use products that replace single-use products. Starting with 'The Picker', the first zero-waste shop in Korea in Seongsu-dong in 2016, there are currently an estimated 300 zero-waste shops in Korea. There is also a famous zero waste shop near Inha University called 'In Place'. It sells products that can be substituted for those non-eco-friendly household products of everyday life, such as laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dish soap, all of which are eco-friendly. Zezariro (제자리로) also sells large loofahs that are farmed and dried by the owner himself, which can be used in a variety of ways, including showering, washing dishes, and showering, and are said to be naturally biodegradable. They also sell a natural soap called soap-nut, which is said to be a natural surfactant saponin that cleanses and has been used as soap in the Himalayas and surrounding areas of India and Nepal since ancient times. In addition, No Plastic Life's signature campaign is the In-Container Challenge. The In-Container Challenge encourages people to bring their own reusable containers to the grocery store, to buy a drink, or order food at a restaurant to keep waste to a minimum. It takes a lot of courage to say no to delivery containers and disposables in an age where we're used to them. The phrase "take a container" has a double entendre, meaning that it takes two to tango. A search on Instagram for #containerized turns up nearly 58,000 hashtags. A quick search reveals a wide variety of courage challenges, from serving coffee in a tumbler to bread, cake, buns, Korean food, Chinese food, and more in containers you bring from home. By actively participating in these major environmental causes, Zero Waste Shops have begun to become more than just a store that sells eco-friendly household products. And within that, small, environmentally conscious businesses, from production to distribution, have banded together to create a marketplace called Zero Waste, made possible by countless individuals who have taken it upon themselves to change their daily lives.

 

 

Zero Waste Life is all about reducing excessive consumption and eliminating unnecessary waste. However, it is not easy to change consumption patterns that have been conditioned by ever-changing fads and showcasing social media in an instant. Upcycling is one of the alternatives to solve the problem of environmental pollution and waste, and to transform conventional consumption into good consumption. Upcycling means adding value to discarded or useless materials to create something new. To be considered upcycled, an item must have a high value-added design or utility, rather than simply being recycled. It is often confused with recycling and downcycling, which are all the same in terms of resource circulation but can be upcycled or recycled depending on whether the resulting product is more or less valuable than the original material. Collecting used plastic bottles and turning them into shoes is upcycling, while discarded clothing is recycling if it is refashioned and made into clothes. In the past, there was a misconception that these recycled and repurposed products were ugly.  It's true that it's hard to find products that are durable and well-designed. Nowadays, however, the variety of materials available has grown exponentially, catering to the diverse tastes of people looking for something meaningful and beautiful. There are bags made from used banners, clothes, bags, and shoes made from used plastic bottles, bags made from military tents, shoes made from used tires, cups made from used glass bottles, notebooks made from waste wood, photos printed from paper cups, and the list goes on. Add to this the growing trend of people buying or learning to make handmade products, such as knitting and soap making, and the trend of consuming vintage products and spaces, and "good consumption" has become a huge creative movement. Swiss recycling brand Freitag is an eco-friendly clothing company that combines fashion with the environment. They recycle abandoned tents, car tarps, and more into bags, and every bag is different, so there are tons of designs to choose from. Due to the nature of the materials, each bag must be handmade by hand, so the price is very high, and because it is an upcycled product, even new ones are sometimes in bad condition, but it is said that it is very popular among young people due to its scarcity.

Plogging is an exercise and environmental activity that combines jogging while picking up trash. It's a combination of the Swedish words "PIocka up" and "Jogging," which means "to pick up ears of grass," and first started in Sweden in 2016.Plogging, like jogging, started with an ordinary individual: Erik Ahlstrom, an office worker, was inspired to start plogging when he saw trash on the side of the road during his daily bike ride to work. His neighbors joined in, and it quickly spread to Sweden, the Nordics, and beyond, becoming a global trend. Many individuals, organizations, and businesses are involved in plogging in Korea. VIPERTH, a leading plogging organization, has grown to over 800 members since its first meeting in 2020 and is leading the "Cigarette Attack" campaign to collect cigarette butts, which are a major source of microplastics, and send them to cigarette manufacturers. It may seem like a lot, but all you need to do is grab a trash bag and gloves before you start your run and walk or run to your destination, picking up and recycling any trash you see along the way. It can be done alone, with friends, with family, on a date with your significant other, on your way to work, on your way home from work, on your lunch break, anywhere and anytime.

 

Zero foods 

 

Calories are often referred to as the "battle power of food flavors. The more calories a food has, the better it tastes, but as zero-calorie foods have grown in popularity, this has been proven wrong. "When I go to a restaurant and order a drink, if there is a zero, I order a zero," said Weemo, 27, from Magok-dong, Gangseo-gu. "I prefer to drink sugar-free drinks because soda is bad for you." In 2022, nine out of the top 20 searches for fizzy drinks were for zero-calorie sodas, with Welch's Zero and Tam's Zero ranking first and second, according to Google Data Labs. As a result, companies are jumping on the "zero sugar" bandwagon, offering unsweetened products that taste just as sweet and delicious as their sugary counterparts. It is also a trend in the food industry to renew existing staple products as 'zero sugar'. Coca-Cola, which launched 'Coca-Cola Zero' in Korea in 2006 and sparked the zero craze, has recently released a CM song 'Zero' in collaboration with girl group NEWJEANS, and is conducting extensive marketing in the zero-sugar carbonated market. Heritage sodas such as Chilsung-CiderPowerade“McCol”“Milkis”When 2% is Not Enough, and Vita 500 are also being reformulated with zero sugar and zero calories. Zero versions of liquid coffee are also becoming more popular. Coca-Cola relaunched Georgia with one-third fewer calories than the original, and Lotte Chilsung Beverage launched a zero-sugarversion of Cantata in early April, sweetened with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.

 

The latest trend in the liquor industry is called "zero sugar soju. Soju contains various sweeteners such as fructose to mask the unpleasant odor of alcohol, but the concept of "zero sugar" is achieved by removing the fructose. Lotte Chilsung's 'New as the first time' is leading this zero-sugar soju trend. A strategy that has been successful in the soda market has been brought to the soju market. The new product sold more than 50 million bottles upon launch, bringing back 2030 Soju drinkers who had left for careers. Hite Jinro also jumped on the bandwagon, reformulating the brand and launching Zero Sugar + 16 degrees. Whether or not it's a new benchmark, it could be interpreted as a sign that the zero trend is hot in the soju market. But is zero sugar soju any less harmful than regular soju, and is it really sugar-free? Soju is an alcoholic liquor made by mixing water and sweeteners, and fructose is used to sweeten it. Zero Sugar Unsweetened Shochu is made by removing the fructose and adding a sweetener that tastes much sweeter in smaller amounts. The reason why regular shochu is indistinguishable except for the fructose and requires less sweetener is because the sweetener is very strong. There's another advantage to using less sweetener for a much stronger flavor: it has virtually no calories. However, the zero-calorie label does not mean that the calorie content is significantly lower: a bottle of Lotte Chilsung's regular soju is about 330 calories, while the new one is 320 calories. The reason why the calorie difference is not significant is that soju does not have a high sugar content in the first place, and alcohol itself is high in calories at 7 kcal per gram. However, the perception that it is a "slimming drink" may encourage consumers to open their wallets, believing they are consuming fewer calories than fructose-laden shochu.

 

Like zero sugar products, a growing number of companies are introducing gluten-free products that are simply reformulated versions of existing products. Oreo is the brand that seems furthest from gluten-free. But surprisingly, Oreo has a lineup of gluten-free cookies. There are two gluten-free Oreos: the original, which is made with a blend of two gluten-free flours: white rice and oats, and the double-stuffed, which doubles the cream for twice the sweetness. Jinmi Foods offers a gluten-free flavored soy sauce using Korean soy sauce made by fermenting domestic soybeans. It does not use wheat, barley, oats, etc. as raw materials, and contains Korean seafood and agricultural products such as domestic anchovy extract, katsuobushi extract, and shiitake mushroom extract. In addition to flavored soy sauce, Jinmi Food is already famous among consumers who practice a gluten-free lifestyle because it has a gluten-free lineup of products such as gochujang, miso, ssamjang, and chunjang. Even if it's not a major company, there are many gluten-free desserts available on Naver Store and in private stores, and the number of specialized gluten-free cafes is increasing rapidly. The closest gluten-free cafe to Inha University is called 'Daseum'. They sell a wide variety of cookies, muffins, madeleines, scones, and other baked goods that are free of white flour, white sugar, eggs, dairy, artificial colors, preservatives, and GMOs, and instead use only natural ingredients such as whole wheat flour brown rice flour and rice flour. Students who feel bloated after eating bread or who want to eat bread while on a diet, visit this bakery if you want to enjoy a healthy sweet taste.

 

Is "Zero" all good?

While single-use items can produce large amounts of greenhouse gases from production to disposal, multi-use items can produce even more greenhouse gases than paper or plastic disposable cups. Add to that the detergent and water used to clean them, and you're looking at an additional environmental footprint. Eco-bags also require more resources and emit more greenhouse gases to make and dispose of than plastic bags. This phenomenon is known as the rebound effect, where an action for the environment can actually be toxic to the environment. A 2019 study by the Climate Change Action Lab found that tumblers have 24 times the greenhouse gas emissions of paper cups and 13 times the emissions of single-use plastic cups. It's important to note that tumblers can have more of an impact on the environment if used for a long period of time and many times. The same study found that using a 300ml tumbler once a day, every day, can offset the greenhouse gas emissions of a plastic cup in two weeks and a paper cup in one month, assuming you use both plastic and paper cups at least once a day. The effect of offsetting greenhouse gases increases the longer you use it. After six months, you'll save 11.9 times the greenhouse gas emissions by using a plastic cup, 21 times after a year, and 33.5 times after two years or more. It's a great reminder that using reusable items for longer periods of time is the real way to save the environment.

 

Thanks to artificial sweeteners that create "worldly flavors," zero calorie, fructose, and sugar beverages and foods are definitely not free of them. The FDA's list of approved artificial sweeteners includes sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, stevia, and allulose. The FDA's position on artificially sweetened beverages and foods is that they are "not harmful to humans unless consumed in amounts above the recommended amounts," and they have recommended amounts for each artificial sweetener. When converted to cans, the recommended intake is 18 to 41 cans of artificially sweetened beverages per day. Few people drink this much in a day, so experts say it's still safe to have a can or two. This does not mean you should drink Zero like water or eat it like a meal. One of the side effects of zero sugar is a "sweet tooth" that can be hard to break. The artificial sweeteners are not absorbed into the body, but the sweet taste is still there, which triggers the part of the brain that tastes for pleasure and the reward system that says, "I want more sweetness. The more consistently you eat sweet zero foods, the more this system is activated, which can lead to increased appetite. The basis of weight loss is calorie reduction, so if you're a regular soda drinker, switching to a zero-calorie beverage may have a short-term weight management advantage. Stick to your usual high-protein, low-carb diet, but replace your favorite dessert or beverage when you're craving something refreshing. It's best to use them as a way to quell those sweet cravings you can't shake when you're dieting and be careful not to over-rely on zero calorie drinks or foods.

 

Gluten-free is a good thing for people who can't eat gluten, but it's not necessarily healthy. Gluten substitutes include cornstarch, rice flour, and potato starch, which, when consumed indiscriminately and in excess, raise blood sugar more than wheat flour, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases. What's more, many gluten-free foods on the market are high in sugar and often contain far more calories than similar products that contain gluten.Cutting out gluten can also lead to nutritional imbalances that can wreak havoc on your health and cause side effects.Therefore, a smart and healthy gluten-free diet requires following a few sustainable practices. First of all, avoid foods that contain your allergen. If you have a specific food group that you need to avoid, such as dairy if you're lactose intolerant, flour if you have a gluten allergy, or almond flour if you're allergic to nuts, you should consider the ingredient content. You can also reduce your carbohydrate intake by using unrefined raw sugar instead of white sugar, whole wheat flour or rye flour instead of white flour and adding a variety of dietary fibers to make your meals healthier. If you're trying to avoid gluten altogether, look for whole foods rather than those that have been artificially removed. This is because many of the foods we recognize as natural are gluten-free, including eggs, chicken, beef, avocados, and tomatoes. I want you to enjoy your meals and be healthy by eating the right way for you.

 

 In the modern world of the 21st century, we live in a world where everything is abundant and lifestyle trends are changing rapidly. The emergence of environmentally and health-conscious trends such as zero-food, zero-waste, among other trends is very welcome for us as consumers. However, it remains up to us to judge the information provided and make the right choice. Therefore, let's become a healthy inhabitant of both body and mind through smart choices and consumption. I hope you enjoy the new zero culture in a personal, yet social and autonomous way.

이가윤  gabriela12@naver.com

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