Zero Waste

Zero Waste is powerful because it is the strategy that revolutionizes how we deal with "stuff".  Simply stated, the goal is of Zero Waste is to end up with as little landfill (or incinerator) waste as possible.  

A classic way of thinking about Zero Waste is the 3R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  However, now a more complete picture of Zero Waste involves 5 R's: Refuse (say "no-thank you"), Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (compost).  It is helpful to look at waste as a hierarchy or upside down pyramid.   At the top are the behaviors that are most desirable towards the bottom are behaviors that are less desirable.  

 

REFUSE

REDUCE

REUSE

RECYCLE

ROT

LANDFILL

 

The way we produce, consume and dispose of our goods and food accounts for 42% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. This means the choices we make about our “stuff” has a bigger impact than driving our car or heating our homes.
— www.ecocycle.org
40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten..almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.
— www.nrdc.org
Zero Waste Businesses save money, are more efficient, manage risk, reduce litter and pollution, cut greenhouse gases, reinvest resources locally, and create jobs and more value for their business and the community.
— www.uszwbc.org
A Zero Waste approach is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies to protect the climate and the environment.
— www.ilsr.org
In order to reach zero waste, we need to change our relationship to garbage and how to view the things we discard as resources, rather than waste. As a resource, our garbage can take on another life, stay out of the landfill, and enter into a cycle that is cradle to cradle, reused and recreated over and over again
— Racing to Zero, The Movie
The US EPA has identified landfills as the single largest source of methane (CH4), a potent greenhouse gas that is 23 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide (CO2). Landfills contribute approximately 34% of all man-made methane released to the atmosphere in the US (USEPA, 2007)
— www.compostingcouncil.org
Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.
— Zero Waste International Alliance
Compostable materials, like food scraps and yard trimmings that are sent to landfills produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas which is up to 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
— www.sfenviroment.org