If you aren’t for Zero Waste, just how much waste are you for?
Zero Waste is a movement working to eliminate waste at the source. It uses nature’s example, where there is no waste, and seeks to recycle all materials in ways that protect human health and our environment. With tons of waste being produced to keep our active lives humming, it sounds really hard, doesn’t it? This movement started when waste management statistics came out showing how much waste individuals produce. Yet 70% (statistics vary a lot) of the materials used in the manufacture of the average US product are thrown away before the product even reaches the shelves. The funny part is that we know how much the product costs in $ but we don’t know how much it costs in resources, subsidies, taxes, and human or environmental health. And! Most statistics are older than 2010.
The Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1976 (Google The Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1976 for a nostalgic look at great governing!) required all states to develop individual plans to maximize waste reduction and recycling by a 1980 deadline. That law, which was defunded in 1987 by the Reagan administration, is still in effect and the Environmental Protection Agency is legally responsible for enforcing it. In the meantime, national recycling rates have remained flat or worsened (just like in New York) while the number of tons of waste destined for landfills has risen dramatically.
Landfills are more than just toxic, ugly reminders of our inability to deal with waste wisely, they contain countless resources that could have been put to better use. Proponents of Zero Waste argue that we should be managing resources, not managing waste.
Zero Waste seems like an abstract, unattainable notion. But it is embraced, practiced, and accomplished in many areas of the world. In the US, cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland, and states like Minnesota, Oregon, and California are striving for Zero Waste. Companies like Xerox, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard are finding that their green image with consumers improves and using Zero Waste principles helps them reduce costs..
Ways You Can Help:
- Consider joining the Citizens Environmental Coalition’s (CEC) “Zero Waste Campaign” a statewide coalition of concerned citizens and groups who press the state to incorporate 21st Century Zero Waste principles into its solid waste policies. New York City Zero Waste Campaign is located at 151 West 30th Street, 11th Floor, and can be reached by 212-244-4664 or http://www.cectoxic.org/ZeroWaste.html
- Contact and support The Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee. They urge people to press their local governments into becoming part of the historic shift from “welfare for waste” to producer responsibility. To learn more about the Club’s work on Zero Waste issues and how to bring Zero Waste to your community, visit http://newyork.sierraclub.org/rochester/zero_waste/zero_waste.html
- The Consumer Policy Institute is a division of Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. The Institute was established to do research and education on the quality of our environment, public health, economic justice and other issues of concern to consumers. The Consumer Policy Institute is funded by foundation grants, government contracts, individual donations, and by Consumers Union. Consumer Policy Institute is located at
- 101 Truman Ave. Yonkers, NY 10703-1057 and cane be reached by calling 914-378-2455 or http://consumersunion.org/pdf/ZeroReport.pdf
- Google Zero Waste Eco cycle! They have so much great information including A-Z Recycling which is a list of hundreds of products and where you can get them recycled, International, National, State and Local Groups, Educational Video, Ecocycle Newsletter, Reports and Research.
Until Next Week,