20 October 2009

Less Waste to Zero Waste

New York Times, October 20, 2009

At Yellowstone National Park, the clear soda cups and white utensils are not your typical cafe-counter garbage. Made of plant-based plastics, they dissolve magically when heated for more than a few minutes.

At Ecco, a popular restaurant in Atlanta, waiters no longer scrape food scraps into the trash bin. Uneaten morsels are dumped into five-gallon pails and taken to a compost heap out back.

And at eight of its North American plants, Honda is recycling so diligently that the factories have gotten rid of their trash Dumpsters altogether.

Across the nation, an antigarbage strategy known as “zero waste” is moving from the fringes to the mainstream, taking hold in school cafeterias, national parks, restaurants, stadiums and corporations.

The movement is simple in concept if not always in execution: Produce less waste. Shun polystyrene foam containers or any other packaging that is not biodegradable. Recycle or compost whatever you can.

Though born of idealism, the zero-waste philosophy is now propelled by sobering realities, like the growing difficulty of securing permits for new landfills and an awareness that organic decay in landfills releases methane that helps warm the earth’s atmosphere.

“Nobody wants a landfill sited anywhere near them, including in rural areas,” said Jon D. Johnston, a materials management branch chief for the Environmental Protection Agencywho is helping to lead the zero-waste movement in the Southeast. “We’ve come to this realization that landfill is valuable and we can’t bury things that don’t need to be buried.”

For the full article, click here.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to the day when it's mandatory everywhere. It will take quite some time and depends on how many people are willing.

    It is just shocking to me that some neighborhoods and schools use recycled bins, which are provided by the government, as trash. There needs to be accountability for contributing to landfill. The government needs to penalize them because we are talking about taxpayers' money. I do not understand how one does not feel about their offsprings' future if not for other people, animals, the earth or air.

    It is heartbreaking to watch how easily plastic utensils, plates, etc go into trash during lunch time every single day as if it's nothing at schools. Imagine 5k students in one school and time that with x number of schools across the country. Isn't schools where adults model and teach the young to be the future eco generations?

    I need to ask this person for the name of that school I went to. This private elementary school -- Everything they eat is organic and they wash their dishes, utensils and cups. They recycle everything and grow their own vegetables. They have 2 sheeps that live on their land and learn how to make wool. They have one class full of different animals and reptiles. Their school is in middle of nature. Just beautiful and I thought it was so wonderful.