Zero Waste – 5 Things You Didn’t Know

I love the idea of zero waste. It’s something that catches everyone and gets them to think.
Jorvetson: "Giving thanks to the open ocean, just off Waimea. Underwater shot while snorkeling." (from Flickr)

  • Is it possible?
  • How would we do something like that?
  • What would our world look like?

I guess it depends on if your a visionary or a realist. Either way here are five things I can tell you about zero waste.

  1. I am living a zero waste lifestyle. I’m not a radical extremist either. I do not stick out or need special help. My life is simpler and easier since I made the change and I’m also happier and healthier.
  2. Your home can be zero waste. I’ve visited a home with a large house, 2 cars, a big  yard, and yep no waste. The two people living there have a deal with their neighbors to take some of their trash since they are missing some raw materials. They get to skip the weekly work on taking out trash and feel good about living a clean life.
  3. Zero Waste means a little bit of work but a lot of habit changes. This is possibly the hardest part about becoming zero waste, changing habits. The work is easy, surprisingly easy, but changing those habits requires time and patience. It’s a path with plan, not an overnight change. Though, most folks do make the change very quickly. The best place to start is recycling, maximize what you are recycling. Next, focus on reducing. This can happen in any number of ways but always results in less spending and more saving for you.
  4. Business can be zero waste. Believe it or not the biggest impediment to becoming zero waste is us. The facilities exist, the people with expertise exist, and even the local/state/federal governments want this to happen. Still, some business are taking a leading role (and building up their green prestige among customers) by putting themselves on a path to zero waste. This often starts with a reality check, how much are we spending on trash right now, how many pickups are we asking for. Then it moves into change management with a plan to decrease spending on trash every month/quarter. Eventually the cost savings are realized and the business then switches over to a zero waste plan.
  5. Our World Needs Your Help. You cannot go anywhere (save the desert or mountains) and not find trash. In fact, it is normally littered on the streets, in our waterways and parks. We all know this but have become used to it. In fact, I remember at an early age accepting that our world is getting worse. I remember thinking that making this world dirty is natural and acceptable. Well, it’s not and with very little work we can all inch towards a zero waste country.

Imagine a United States that is zero waste. Imagine taking your kids, friends, and loved ones into parks and oceans that are clean and healthy. Start now and take your baby steps towards zero waste.

Message from a Concerned Member of the World

Poster: Spence

Who’s this?: your friend.

What is this?: my first post, also ->

(in Commemoration of the First Official Day of this Organization)

Hello anyone who is witness to this text, and Hello to any future readers who will read this post.  I have given an in-advance greeting in order to make an instant connection with you. YOU! Do you feel the love? See, now we already have the connection that I wanted, or at least I wish we do. Where I am going with this? Continue reading.

This disconnection between and within humans and our surrounding environment is one thing I would like to address.  I feel that we are losing touch with the things that matter, and we are being distracted by the material things that absorb our world. These things called possessions are temporary and fleeting, that exemplify and further our lustful needs.  Everyone must have experienced this unsatisfying moment where you feel the need to keep collecting and upgrading the objects in our life.  These things might not even be necessary, where we take for granted what we have.  Health, Safety, Education, Food, Water: the simpler things that some people around the world are desperate for.  We sometimes pine for what we think we need (including myself).  To clarify, I’m not a minimalist [maybe in the future], but excess and wastefulness are illogical actions that consume my mind. Appropriately enough, the word consume applies to this non-profit.  Actually, how we consume applies to conditions of the present and future of our town, city, state, country, continent, and Earth (aka Gaia, World, Globe, Home).

Home: a place you respect and take care of.  Now, why not apply this to wherever you are? Are you at home or outside of your home for most of the day?  So then, your home is wherever  you are at that moment.  You might have a place to settle and relax, but your daily life can consist of an uncalculated amount of places and environments.  Why not make an impact wherever you go? ( socially, environmentally, physically, whatever way you see fit).  However, according to this organization, our focus is the conservation of waste. Consciously think about what you buy and minimize the excess and waste that comes from this. This is something I feel strongly about.  Make this connection again. With your neighborhood, your friends, your strangers, your path throughout the day.  We are not only members of this created and structured land, but rather guests upon a land that has existed and gloriously provided for every creature on earth.  Respect her, and minimalize the impact you have on her, because it’s our home, everywhere.

PS: Now if you didn’t read all this or just want the cliff notes, here you go:

Simplify + Condense + Minimalize + Reduce  = Happier Earth

The connection/association/importance/emphasis on the people and places you encounter will bring for a greater global community that will prove the necessity we have for each other, and appreciation of the land we inhabit.

My Visit to Whole Foods Compost

Tonight I visited the Whole Foods stores of Washington D.C. and spoke with a nice lady named Erin. She is a part of the green mission for the market super chain. Thank you very much Erin for showing me around the compost operations.

Whole Foods is truly a unique operation in that it actually has a green mission. The mission is a part of its core values to care “About Our Communities & Our Environment”. Now, I bet most of you are thinking that this is another corporate ploy. I had the same thought and so I used this opportunity to discover for myself.

Right when I arrived at the Tenleytown store, Erin greeted me and we began discussing the internal workings of the composting business. We talked about facilities, pick-ups, and different types of decomposition. She explained how the stores she works with are cutting their waste disposal costs in half by actively engaging in composting. They are able to divert very high percentages of their waste away from landfills. Something in the range of 80-90%, very close to being a zero waste corporation.

That right there was enough for me. Here is a large operation that could be sending out many tons of waste each day to our landfills. Instead they are being proactive, saving money, and proving that it works.

As we continued along, Erin showed me how she implemented these features in the store. At nearly every location where a trash can existed there was also a recycle bin and a compost bin. Now anyone involved in recycling knows that sorting this stuff is tough. Yet the employees had worked this into their daily activities, it was almost second nature. It was really cool to watch one worker spend the time to break down and compact some cardboard, instead of just wheel it outside to the dumpster.

An interesting side note is that all of this is hidden from the customers. We definitely live in a bubble wrapped world.

Other features of the operation were that as the process grew she was working on making everything in the store recycled. The actual trash bins were few and far between (most that I did see were for the customers). The large trash chutes and compactors were now being used for compost and recycling, rather than for landfill trash.

Can you imagine working in an environment with only recycle/compost bins and no trash cans?

I’m not sure these workers ever imagined that, but here they are working that way. They were deeply involved in a quiet compost revolution at their stores.

Overall it was quite an impressive operation and I walked away impressed and hopeful for this nonprofit’s future.

Thanks again Erin.

P.S. thanks to the @wholefoods twitter account for this informative tweet. Also, here is a link to their blog about their compost operations.