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Zero waste, from the US to the world

Some Americans experts suggest encouraging Zero Waste lifestyles. Although this article first appeared a few years ago, the issue of waste is still very relevant to the discussion of sustainable living.

Eric Lombardi, executive director at EcoCycle, reports “Each American creates about a ton of garbage every year, and about 90 percent of that is reusable, recyclable or compostable, we need to stop managing waste and start eliminating waste.”

I am assuming everybody knows the 3 Rs of sustainable living: reduce, reuse and recycle. 

reduce- reuse - recycle sustainable US

I agree with EcoCycle, it is very important to reduce the waste and reuse stuff,  because even the most efficient recycling processes use valuable energy and resources.

The top 3 ideas for reducing and reusing are:

  • Use a refillable coffee mug rather than paper cups at your local coffee shop. Trust me the taste is very different and you’ll quickly get used to this new way of drinking your morning joe; also, some chains offer a discount if you bring your own container.
  • Keepreusable shopping bags or old paper or plastic ones in your car or bag so they’re convenient when you stop at the market.
  • Shop at the farmer’s markets and/or grow some vegetables at home to reduce how much packaging you use; side benefit, you will be eating real food and hopefully you’ll feel healthier too.

Sustainable US zero waste day US 2015

While reducing and reusing should come first, recycling is still important. Recycling uses 40 to 95 percent less energy than manufacturing with raw materials, according to The National Recycling Coalition. And EcoCycle reports that recycling creates 10 to 25 jobs for every one job in landfilling.

There must also be a focus on composting organic waste like food scraps and yard waste. Thrown in the trash, your organic waste can create methane and contributes to climate change decomposing in a landfill. But if it’s made into compost instead, organic waste can return valuable nutrients to soil.

do not hear from those interested in recycle programs, zero waste initiatives or composting pickup services. It is important that you ask your local waste management organization. You need to show your concerns and do your part to make a change.

Resource: The Grassroots Recycling Network offers resources including a model resolution, zero waste event guide, and zero waste tool kit for local governments.


Reviewed by author @Keegan Burnes August 2017

Sara – tourism sector consultant

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