Sunday, April 24, 2011

zero waste, a definition

 -- Quote of the Day --

"Strive not to be a success,
But rather to be of value."

~ Albert Einstein

-- Defining "Zero waste" --

The Zero Waste International Alliance has developed a peer-reviewed, internationally accepted definition of “Zero

"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. "

This includes phasing out organics from the landfill and sending them to the composting stream instead – organics can range from 50-80% of the materials found in a landfill, and can include things like soiled paper products as well as yard and kitchen waste. 

Increasing the efficiency and expanding the amount of materials accepted in the recycling system is another method employed in Zero Waste, along with special education and incentives  programs to encourage people to participate.

Take-back programs are another option, these exist through manufacturers or retailers. Increasing reuse potential is extremely effective through Reuse Centers at most landfill sites and a several online online sites like, sites, and classified ads - along with Trash-To-Treasure days, where residents leave stuff they no longer want on the curb with a sign on a specified day.

Community Repaint is a program I'd like to highlight today - based in the UK, this program allows for the collection of unwanted paint for redistribution to low income homes, businesses, community art and building projects. Because of this program's existence, in 2010 alone they were able to collect 316,641 Liters of paint, redistributing over 215,848 Liters back into the community. And this one program resulted in saving 561 tons of CO2 - the equivalent of taking 190 cars off the road. On the community level, this non-profit provided 132 volunteer opportunities and the chance of taking any one of the 112 training opportunities the program offered. Find the org at:

Here in BC Canada we have a similar paint collection program administered through the Product Care Association:  In BC, people can take their leftover paint and other household hazardous waste to over 100 collection depots, or pick up some free paint. Most communities will find these programs either through their local Reuse Center or through the local Bottle Depot.

Find Dave and Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, information about their radio program, newsletter, blogs, and more at:

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