Thursday, September 26, 2013

Zero Waste

Today we were able to attend a presentation by Paul Connett who was in NE Wisconsin speaking on ZERO WASTE this week.

"The world has enough for everyone's need,
but not for everyone's greed."
     Mahatma Ghandi

"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."
--  Internationally accepted, peer-reviewed definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance  29 November 2004

Our real task is to fight over-consumption.
   Common sense

to prop up the 4Rs

10 Practical STEPS toward ZERO WASTE

1.  Source separation
2.  Door to door collection
3.  Composting
4.  Recycling
5.  Waste reduction initiatives
6.  Reuse, repair & reconstruction
7.  Economic incentives
8.  Residual separation & research center
9.  Better industrial design
10. Interim landfill

Since the industrial revolution we have attempted to impose a linear society on a planet that functions in circles. Nature recycles everything; we do not. In four steps we convert virgin materials into waste. It starts with extraction, and then manufacture, then distribution, then consumption and finally waste.   At each step in this linear chain there are enormous impacts on the environment. Extraction from raw materials requires large quantities of energy and in turn produces huge quantities of solid waste, air pollution, water pollution, ecosystem damage, and massive quantities of carbon dioxide which in turn leads to Global Warming. Most of these impacts are repeated again with the manufacture of products. Then transportation between every step entails further energy use and even more carbon dioxide production and more Global Warming.  With China, India, and Indonesia attempting to catch up with western consumption, the stresses on finite resources and global climate change threaten to become far, far worse than anything we have seen to date.  We have to move from the back end of waste disposal to the front end of resource management and better industrial design. We need to design waste out of the system.  We need community responsibility at the back end of the problem, industrial responsibility at the front end, and we need good political leadership to bring these two together.  The Zero Waste strategy says no to incinerators, no to mega-landfills, no to the throwaway society and yes to a sustainable society.
We have to separate the quality of life from material consumption.
We ned to swap a life built around acquiring a series of objects...
to a life built around a series of expanding human relationships.

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