If you send trash directly to a landfill not much happens, but if you recycle it a series of business touch the trash and that creates jobs. Here is a report from a few years ago that shows recycling creates 25 jobs, while sending trash to the landfill only creates one job (per ton of trash). A huge economic impact and one that highlights my favorite green idea – the double impact.
I’ve always believed the key to our green future is to find ways to improve lives as we go green. It can’t just be about sacrifices and volunteering, it also needs to help people. And that is usually the way it works, it just sometimes takes a little extra time to think things through.
Which makes recycling a valuable sector of the economy employing hundreds of thousands of people. A report from the EPA says there are “56,000 establishments that employ more than 1.1 million people, generate an annual payroll of nearly $37 billion, and gross over $236 billion in annual revenues.”
Now that is a double impact – jobs, GDP, and businesses for greening the planet.
Zero Waste is a design principle that goes beyond recycling to focus first on reducing wastes and reusing products and then recycling and composting the rest. Zero Waste works to redesign the system to mimic natural systems, recognizing that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and everything is a resource for something or someone else. Currently, Austin is estimated to lose over $40 million annually by sending materials that could be recycled or reused to area landfills.
Austin’s Zero Waste system will strive to recover that estimated loss and eliminate waste, or get darn close. This Plan defines success as reducing by 20% the per capita solid waste disposed to landfills by 2012, diverting 75% of waste from landfills and incinerators by 2020, and 90% by 2040.
Then, bringing the children into it with a program called Generation Zero. Offering educational programs at each grade level:
Kindergarten – 2nd grade – classroom composting
3rd – 5th – learning about recycling
Middle School – learn about landfills and visit a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)
High School – history of trash in America
And, my favorite, offering discounts on the utility bill for reducing your trash. If you throw away more you pay more, allowing greener families to save up to $20/month:
24 gallon bin – $13.35
32 gallon bin – $14.60
64 gallon bin – $19.75
96 gallon bin – $33.50
This is exciting to watch Austin transform itself, starting from a very low recycling rate of 38% and moving all the way to zero waste.
Ohio Stadium is the largest stadium in the country to attempt zero waste. With 105,000 seats and a massive tailgating section this is a challenge. Their goal is get near-zero waste with 90% of the trash turned into recycling and compost.
The success has been fast and big with a 61% reduction in trash sent to landfills in 2011, the first year of the program. And an incredibly high season average of 75.3% for recycling and compost for an average of 105,231 people.
The best part is how fast this is all moving. When the program began they weren’t sure what they could do, and labelled zero waste as “pretty impossible”. Now, they are hoping for at least one game in the 2012 season with 90% diversion rate, their standard for zero waste.
An incredible achievement that shows zero waste is possible, can happen fast, and without interrupting all the fun.
Living a zero waste lifestyle isn’t hard if you start simple. And the first step is to get rid of some of the trash cans in your home. Leave a few in the major areas and make sure to leave one for recycling. Soon you will find the majority of your trash to be recyclables and the trash you send to the landfill dropping like the rain.
When I made this change, I found a trash can in each room. Most contained only a few pieces that I had to empty every week. I thought about it and determined that the kitchen and the bathroom were key places to keep a trash can. Everything else was put in storage, or converted into a recycle bin. The fewer trash cans freed up a little time and allowed me to focus on what I was throwing out.
It happened that I wasn’t recycling enough. I visited the website of my trash company and found their list of approved recyclables. I was recycling only half of what I could and quickly doubled the amount in the recycle bin. It’s amazing how this one step – reducing the trash cans – led me to the easiest and biggest step towards zero waste. I was halfway there.
The next step was a little harder. No big reductions, just making one small change at a time. I noticed my shampoo and conditioner bottles weren’t recyclable, so I switch to a brand that was. The little yogurt cups weren’t recyclable but the big ones were. I began paying attention to each item I was sending to a landfill, and found that each had a recyclable alternative.
And that’s it. The path to zero waste is simple and easy. At first glance it sounds like an extreme lifestyle and impossible to do. But it’s not and everyone I recommend this to is shocked at the simplicity. A little step in the green direction and we all do our part.
Cardiff, a city just north of San Diego, is hosting an event guaranteed to be fun. There will be multiple surf contests, a green expo, tarp surfing (see picture below), musical entertainment, and a demo of various DIY surf toys (handplanes, paipos, etc.).
The following is a press release from Goodwill of Orange County, California. It discusses the great success the company has had managing e-waste and creating green jobs.
Check out your local Goodwill to see if they are also accepting e-waste, there is a good chance they are!
Turn Your E-Waste Into New Opportunities.
We all know those old TV sets, computers, printers and other electronic stuff (known as e-waste) can reek havoc on the planet if tossed into the landfill.
What you might not know is that, by donating it all to Goodwill’s E-waste Solutions program, you’ll be providing job training and green jobs to people with disabilities and other barriers–while helping to save the planet. That’s what we call turning your e-waste into a brand new opportunity.
Since 1924, Goodwill has pioneered our own “Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Renew” manifesto by creating a sustainable platform that provides jobs, revenue and a greener environment. We make it easy to be green by providing a safe and free service to the community, where we in turn are able to recycle computers, TVs and other electronics.
Reduce: By making recycling easy, we reduce the amount of toxic materials that would otherwise end up in our landfills
Reuse: We repair what we can and re-sell to bargain-driven families in the community who can’t afford the latest electronics
Repurpose: What we can’t repair, we disassemble and separate the metals that is in turn sold to reputable state recyclers
True to its mission of creating new opportunities, Goodwill of Orange County has been a ‘green’ business long before the term was coined.
All Orange County Goodwill Locations Accept E-waste at No Charge
As a California State Certified e-waste collector we’ll gladly accept all your electronics, working or not, at one of our Orange County donation centers. Tax receipts are provided. If your business has 20 e-waste items or more to donate, call us and we’ll pick them up — free of charge.
As society shifts into the digital age, a lot of paper books are being left behind. Some courageous and green artists are fighting the tide by bringing these books back into their own as gorgeous works of art.