Zero waste is a possibility |

Zero waste is a possibility

I’ve heard it all. Every reason imaginable NOT to recycle or reduce waste. Some are down right ridiculous. Others, I must admit, have caused me to pause, even for a moment, and consider the validity of their argument.

But I have access to the numbers, the facts and the results of worldwide research. I know how important it is to reduce waste. I know that zero waste is a possibility, not just some hippie dream.

The hardest part about implementing zero waste is convincing people that waste is not inevitable. But the only way to truly know is to try.

Take a look at who is working toward zero waste: New Zealand, China, Europe and Australia, communities around America (Frisco is even considering a plan for the town hall), and companies such as erox, Fetzer Vineyards, Hewlett-Packard, Pilsbury, Sony, Toyota, Honda and more have set zero-waste goals.

If such large, successful companies have found the value and the efficiency in changing their practices, your household certainly can.

Taken step by step, reducing your waste by more than half is pretty easy.

First, stop buying products that are nonrecyclable and overly packaged. This takes a conscious effort at the grocery store. For example, opt for products sold in bulk – or at least not individually wrapped.

If a product comes in a nonrecyclable container and a competitor sells it in an aluminum can, buy the one in the aluminum can. Take notice of how many layers of packaging you have to go through to get to the item you actually wanted. Is all of it necessary?

Next, make the switch from disposable products to reusable ones. This means using coffee mugs, sponges, cloth napkins, and real dishes and silverware instead of the disposable versions. These choices save money and look cleaner and classier anyway. If you must use disposable products, buy those that have recycled content (available locally at EcoProducts and Alpine Natural Foods).

Reuse items – especially nonrecyclables. Jars and yogurt tubs are great for crafts and for holding leftovers .You’ll never have to buy a container again. This includes bringing items (such as clothes, shoes and books) to the thrift store so that they can be reused by someone else.

Remember that recycling is the absolute last step – after you have reduced your waste by shopping smart and after you have reused the item. Recycle everything that you can after that. Part of recycling is composting. It’s really easy to start and maintain a compost pile or bin, even in a cold, high-altitude environment.

A large component in zero waste is producer responsibility. Nearly everything is designed to be thrown away these days. It is a sad fact 99 percent of products are no longer used six months after being purchase. It may be convenient, but you are throwing away your hard-earned money every time you buy these products – and those companies are banking on it. Stop supporting the disposable society, and more importantly, let the manufacturers know that you have stopped.

Now, sit down with your family or roommates and set up a plan to work towards zero waste. You can do it!

Holly Kingsley is the education coordinator for Summit Recycling Project, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to minimizing waste in Summit County and surrounding areas.

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