Zero Waste Explained
by Ivy-Maria Williams
Zero Waste is a concept that can be difficult to completely understand. The most simple way to describe the goal of zero waste is to send almost nothing to landfills. The more complicated explanation is “ 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 .” This would consist of putting the resources that would typically go to waste back into circulation to be used again, making our economy circular instead of linear.
Zero Waste living may seem far-fetched, but it is more realistic and closer than you think. By 2040, many cities plan to cut their waste by 75% to 90%. Some states leading this movement include California, Texas, and even Hawaii.
Below is a list of cities and how they plan to approach their Zero Waste goals:
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles plans to tackle zero waste by changing their systems for product creation, use and disposal. They plan to use sustainable, recyclable materials and resource recovery to become Zero Waste by 2025.
Oakland is adopting Zero Waste by using the most efficient materials in production to limit pollution in all phases of product creation and use.
Businesses, residents, and visitors will be encouraged to adopt Zero Waste habits through education and example. Middletown hopes to significantly reduce their waste production by 2024.
The City Council in Minneapolis approved of goals to recycle and compost 50 percent of its waste by 2020 and 80 percent by 2030. View http://www2.minneapolismn.gov/solid-waste/index.htm to see their progress.
Austin Texas hopes to circulate 90% of solid waste by instead of sending it to incinerators or landfills by 2024.
Why should I consider a Zero Waste lifestyle?
● Benefits the Earth and community by reducing pollution and saving energy
● Decreases the use of limited natural resources
● Can provide more jobs, helping the economy and well-being of people in general
● It is a healthier, cost-effective lifestyle
How do I live Zero Waste?
● Understand why you are choosing a zero-waste lifestyle. If you do not have a reason or a plan to ease into it, you will have a difficult experience.
● Look at what you consume and choose what you could cut back on. For example: do you need to use a paper towels or can I use re-usable organic kitchen towels?
● Instead of binging on zero waste items all at once, replace what you already have as you run out.
● Shop at a zero-waste grocery store.
● Upcycle, re-use, donate, or sell old items instead of throwing them away.
● Start composting! Compost can help contribute to great soil that can be used for a home garden, plants, or a beautiful front yard.
A zero-waste lifestyle cannot be achieved overnight, but with the right amount of research and determination, you can decide if it is something you want to pursue. Perfection is not the goal, improvement is.
Check out some of our favorite Zero-waste accounts that are doing their part.
Sources: EPA / Trash For Tossers / Toronto Environment