What does Zero Waste have to do with Recycling?

Tips from Media Recycles

“We don’t need a handful of people doing Zero Waste perfectly.  We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”  –Anne-Marie Bonneau, “Zero Waste Chef”

Recycling is just one part of an overall approach to reducing negative impacts on the natural environment that has come to be known as “Zero Waste.”  (It may not be the best term for this approach as it is a bit intimidating—can ANYONE achieve Zero Waste?)  Zero Waste not only includes recycling but goes a step beyond.

For detailed information on how to recycle in Media Borough, click here.

I am not one for reinventing the wheel.  So, when I find a statement that sums up what I wish I had said, I shamelessly recycle it.  Hawaii County adopted a Zero Waste Plan in 2009.  From its Zero Waste website:

‘“Zero Waste” is a way of life that promotes the goal of reducing the amount of material we throw away.  One way to achieve that goal is to re-imagine resource management whereby instead of disposing of “waste” we reincorporate the by-products of one system to be used by another system, and the by-products of the next system are used by another and so on in a virtuous loop. There is no such thing as “waste” in Nature. In nature, the by-product of one system is feedstock for another system. Only humans have created this thing called “waste.” 

The statement goes on to point out that our ancestors lived this way in the past, and with small shifts in our daily activities, we can greatly reduce our impact on the environment.  

Its website offers a list of simple practices people can adopt to lower their town’s ecological footprint:

  1. Eliminate the things you don’t really need by minimizing consumption of goods.
  2. Avoid single-use disposables, e.g. polystyrene foam cups and containers, plastic bags, plastic utensils.
  3. Buy products that can be reused or recycled.  Be creative! How can you re-incorporate that item back into another useful life cycle in your life?  Reuse glass containers for food storage; remake an old t-shirt into a reusable bag.  Look up other projects online.
  4. Avoid buying items that are made of or packaged in non-recyclable or difficult to recycle materials, for example, Styrofoam®.  Instead purchase items made with recycled-content materials and close the loop.
  5. Ask your favorite take-out restaurant to use biodegradable containers and utensils. Take them home and compost them.
  6. Products and packaging can be redesigned to use less materials, last longer and not create pollution. We can choose to buy these products. This will encourage producers to offer products with less overall packaging and use more recyclable and recycled-content materials.
  7. When you go to a store, take reusable shopping bags.
  8. Buy products in bulk or with less packaging (put your apples in that bag you made from your repurposed t-shirt).
  9. Recycle used materials.