What is Zero-Waste?

Refuse, Reuse, Recycle

I use the term zero waste often. It is a daily goal in my household, a goal we work for every day.  Everything we purchase has an impact on our environment from our use of materials and natural resources to the emissions created for manufacturing. Then there is the end of life of a product. Will it sit in a landfill for 500 years polluting the ground and air surrounding it, can it be reused many times, or can it be turned into a new product?

Manufacturing, landfills, garbage burning, and hazardous waste contribute enormously to our warming planet. We need to take all our trash and waste seriously. Remember food waste is waste too!

Unfortunately, we have a long way to go to reach a zero-waste future.  Walking through a grocery or drugstore highlights how far we still have to go. Almost everything is packaged in plastic. Plastic that can’t be recycled!  As consumers we can try to purchase products with a minimum of packaging or refuse to purchase them completely. I often call manufacturers like Field Roast, Morningstar and Bob’s Redmill to request they start to use recyclable packaging.  Currently, in the United States only 9 to 10% of our plastic is recycled. We have a long way to go and need to begin to hold producers of plastic responsible so they produce packaging that can be recycled or reused.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is how we need to live. Every product we purchase affects our environment; So, before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it? If you do, consider buying gently used instead of new, and look for minimal packaging and shipping.

My county, Hennepin, is creating plans for a zero-waste future:

Hennepin County’s zero-waste vision is a waste management system where all materials are designed to become resources for others to use to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. The key performance measure is diverting 90% or more of all discarded materials from landfills and incinerators.” Hennepin County

Zero waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. Currently, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. In a zero waste system, material will be reused until the optimum level of consumption.” The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)

Watch The Story of Stuff and learn more about the zero waste movement.

In the United States 30% of our food is wasted. A huge waste of energy, labor and resources. https://www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste

This is excellent! https://www.ecowatch.com/how-to-store-produce.html

Air Pollution Is Everyone’s Problem!

11703236_908335322566446_6098173936904503204_oWe love our freedoms. We ride ATVs, run leaf blowers and lawn mowers, spray chemicals and have fires in our yards, totally unaware of how are actions could be affecting other people.  A new study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency(MPCA),  puts the responsiblity for air pollution on the general public.  Their study says air pollution in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis, St. Paul and suburbs 2.8 million) causes 2,000 deaths a year.

The Minnesota Pollution Control report gives specific ways to improve air quality:

  • Drive the most fuel-efficient vehicle you can afford.
  • Take public transportation, walk, or bike whenever possible.
  • Limit wood-burning activities like backyard bonfires.
  • Look for alternatives to fossil-fuel-burning small engines such as electric lawnmowers and weed trimmers rather than those that use gas.

 

Here is a link to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s recent report on air quality.
http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/about-mpca/mpca-news/featured-stories/life-and-breath.html

http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/about-mpca/mpca-news/featured-stories/life-and-breath.html   Bottom line – air pollution is everyone’s problem

And from the Startribune:  The small particle pollution created by small engines like lawn mowers and leaf blowers, diesel engines, industry and backyard fires causes 2,100 premature deaths each year, plus 291 hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and 400 emergency room visits for asthma.  http://www.startribune.com/twin-cities-air-pollution-kills-2-000-a-year-new-state-analysis-shows/314623601/

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