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.
Probably not what you expected. Our dominant method of creating energy is the problem. And that is through the use fossil fuels for electricity generation and transportation. To get global warming under control we need a massive shift in energy policy (i.e. clean energy).
That’s important but if you look at emissions by end user a different story emerges:
Manufacturing – 30%
Homes – 18%
Personal Cars – 17%
Business – 17%
Farming – 8%
Freight Trucks – 6%
Airplanes – 2%
To understand this you need to keep in mind that it’s the person buying the product or driving the car that is ultimately responsible for the emission. That is what these numbers show and they are often overlooked. Which is sad because they convey what you can do, right now, to have an impact.
It is not about cars and electricity like most think. Although they still are important. Rather, it’s the stuff we buy (manufacturing) and our habits at home and at work that cover 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions.
This is why I like the facts. They tell their own story. In this case, it’s that you – one person – can change your habits and have a huge impact on global warming.
I have something terribly gross for you. Something so detestable you certainly won’t think of it like reusing a toothbrush. A bathroom act that asks you to wash and reuse. This despicable act is to reuse your floss.
Floss is different from a toothbrush or comb because it goes in your mouth. It is now infected with disease and should be immediately be thrown out. Do not even think of rinsing it off and using again. Definitely do not be place it next to the toothbrush that you will rinse off and use again.
Remember, the Earth has infinite resources and we should not worry about little things like floss. There is enough landfill space for billions of strings. We have enough room for the daily floss of 8 billion people and the 2.9 trillion pieces they could use each year.
So the next time you floss avoid reusing it. Make sure to throw it away and buy more at the store. It’s cheap and you can always grab some money off your money tree.
I propose a new way to think about the Great Recession in America. Instead of the middle class is dying, how about the dirty middle class is dying. The way of life where overconsumption and gas guzzling is more American than recycling or biking. If our energy supply can be both dirty and clean, why not our lifestyles?
Consider the average family spends 20% of their budget on transportation. That’s 10 weeks/year just to pay for car and gas. But what about the big gas guzzlers, the kind that cost $80 to fill-up. No one wants to pay $100 for gas but that is where we are headed. And yet there are plenty of them on the street. As those gas prices tick up I think they will slowly disappear and be replaced by bikes and EV’s.
Food is another area in slow decline. You might’ve heard that 69% of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s a lot of extra money spent on food, especially when times are tight. A new report shows our consumption of candy and processed foods has doubled in the last 30 years. What if a family were to save money by committing to healthy portion sizes, cutting out processed foods, and putting that savings towards college.
Last, think about the basic rule of disposable goods. They only work once and you have to buy more every week. Not only is this horrible for the environment but it costs a lot of money. Families could go broke following the jingles in commercials. And those who are pushing hard on – reduce, reuse, recycle – are again finding themselves with extra money to spend on family vacations.
After all, isn’t that what being in the middle class is about, family vacations? Being able to work, have fun, and save a little money for college or retirement. I thought so, but somehow that dream became owning an SUV, overeating, and buying something to throw out. But take solace in knowing that this dirty way of life is moving towards extinction. To be replaced by green families who ride bikes and have vegetable gardens.
It gives new meaning to the saying, there goes the neighborhood.
To explain all this let’s start with what Zero Waste means. The concept isn’t about throwing things away, like most think, it’s about sustainability and recycling. We are all consumers and will continue to be, and the goal isn’t to get rid of consumption but to modify it. To create a system where everything we use ends up someplace other than a landfill.
California set a goal of a 50% reduction in 1989. In the last decade, most of the state has achieved that and surpassed it (the current statewide rate is 65%). Now, the government has upped the ante, asking for 75% by 2020.
I am often frustrated by the lack of depth in articles about sustainability. It’s as if all writers and “experts” are recycling the same content. We all feel this impending sense of climactic doom and want to make changes, but then we are fed the same tips we already know. I think I’ve discovered why this is happening.
Here is another way to reduce your trash on your way to Zero Waste – the recycled toothbrush. It looks, acts, and feels like a normal toothbrush, but when you are done with it you replace the head instead of throwing the whole thing out. You can buy replacement heads in packs of 3, 6 and it comes in sensitive, soft, and medium bristle strength. They’re usually completely recyclable and made of recycled materials.
It’s a rather genius idea and I’m not sure why it hasn’t caught on already. I’ve been using mine for nearly 3 years (the same brush) and have switched out the head several times. Here is the brand I use:
With the opening ceremony of the London Olympics only days away, organizers prepare to celebrate what may be the one of the greenest Olympic Games to date.
For Olympic organizers, sustainability has been a major focus in planning the Games’ venues. Forbes notes that existing or temporary venues are utilized whenever possible. For permanent structures, “Each new venue was required to achieve a minimum 15 percent improvement against Building Regulations.”
The site of London’s Olympic Park has also been noted for its radical transformation. Once an industrial area along the River Lea, the site was previously contaminated by “heavy metals, hydrocarbons, arsenic and cyanide,” according to BBC News.
At the largest urban park built in Britain in over the century, officials planted 2,000 native trees and 300,00 wetland plants and restored five miles of the River Lea. 110 acres of land were also turned into “reed beds, wet woodlands, grassland and ponds” to encourage the return of wildlife, reported the Press Association.
While British officials originally planned to draw 20 percent of the London Olympics’ power from renewable sources, they fell short of that goal. The BioRegional and WWF-UK report explains that only nine percent of on-site energy will be renewable.
The Air Canada Center…has identified three areas where it can most affect its impact on the environment: Energy, Waste and Water.
Energy is the largest component of MLSE’s footprint. It is a required commodity, but we do not take its management lightly. We endeavour to minimize our environmental impact through:
Deep-lake water cooling which eliminates the need for air conditioning compressors
Using steam produced centrally instead of using many boilers
Lighting controls on office floors to reduce light levels
Overnight temperature set back
Variable speed drives on pumps and fans
Updating fridges to Energy Star
Aggressive plans to upgrade lighting throughout the venue and office tower
Proactive internal program aimed at reducing electricity usage and plug load in office tower
Over a one year period, Air Canada Centre holds on average 180 ticketed events with 2.75 million attendees coming through the building. This amount of traffic combined with the amenities of a sports and entertainment facility, produces a large volume of waste. MLSE is cognizant of its waste and in 2009 alone will be diverting over 500 metric tonnes of organic material from landfills to farms where it is converted into clean soil (compost). We are also recycling 375 metric tonnes of material per year. Some of our successes are:
MLSE is always looking at ways to reduce water usage and to ensure our business does not contaminate our water system. Some of the ways we have done this are:
Utilizing environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and chemicals
Installing faucet sensors in our washrooms
Installing aerators on taps
Filtering the water that makes our ice through reverse osmosis, instead of treating it chemically
Treating the water in our ice making plant with “”anode technology”” instead of with chemicals
Los Angeles is not only top in California, but also leads the nation’s large cities in water conservation. Since June 2009, when Mandatory Water Conservation took effect in the City of Los Angeles, Angelenos have saved more than 75 billion gallons – more than one-third of what Los Angeles uses in one year.
Water use in Los Angeles has fallen to 1970s levels, despite a population increase of more than 1 million. In fiscal year 2010-2011, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers used an average of 117 gallons of water per person daily – the lowest among the nine U.S. cities with populations over one million.
“Angelenos have embraced water conservation as a way of life and are not only leaders in California, but across the nation. Four years ago, critics said LA couldn’t achieve further water savings, but incentives combined with strong policies, public awareness and a strong response by our customers has led to the lowest water use by our customers ever recorded.”
“Water conservation is the best source of water supply” said Ronald Nichols, General Manager of LADWP. “These reductions in water use result in lower imports of water to Los Angeles. It saves our customers money; it reduces risk of uncertainty of availability of imported water supply sources, and is the most environmentally sustainable means to meet the total water supply needs of Angelenos.”