“GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. We recognize that our planet’s finite resources, fragile biosphere, and the health of people and other living beings are endangered by polluting and inefficient production practices and health-threatening disposal methods. Because of this, we oppose incinerators, landfills, and other end-of-pipe interventions. Our goal is clean production and the creation of a closed-loop, materials-efficient economy where all products are reused, repaired, or recycled.”
—Mission statement, originally adopted at GAIA’s founding meeting in South Africa, 2000
It is clear that we are facing an unprecedented global crisis: plastic has flooded every corner of our oceans, climate change is threatening to wipe out entire cities and island nations, and thousands of people die every day from air pollution.
GAIA and our members are global leaders in stopping waste and pollution, and in advancing visionary, win-win solutions that protect the environment and human wellbeing and that build strong, participatory local economies.
At GAIA, we see waste and its resulting pollution as a symptom of a larger, profit-driven extractive economy, and we promote zero waste as a holistic solution and an economic shift toward justice and sustainability.
GAIA members strategize together about key goals and targets, share information online and in regional meetings, campaign toward common goals, lead trainings and skillshares, and provide a community of support for one another. We make a lasting impact by promoting on-the-ground solutions in communities and cities and shifting political and financial drivers to support these best practices. Our work covers a spectrum of approaches from supporting local struggles against pollution-causing waste facilities to influencing global and national climate policy and challenging corporate greenwashing.
Our network’s track record of success demonstrates the power of grassroots solutions to protect our planet and advance the rights and wellbeing of all communities, especially those who are most vulnerable to the impact of pollution and exploitation. Communities around the world are rejecting waste burning and are instead advancing recycling, composting, waste reduction, and other creative solutions. Recyclers and waste pickers have formed cooperatives and collectives that promote social justice while reducing waste and pollution. Cities are stopping the flow of plastic into our oceans by implementing strong systems of collection and by advocating for bans on single-use, disposable plastics like plastic shopping bags. Globally, GAIA members have worked to pass powerful, leading-edge national policies in a number of countries to reduce waste, stop waste burning, and promote recycling and composting. We have worked together in UN processes to transform global understanding of the environmental and economic importance of the waste and recycling sector and to shift the flow of public money toward zero waste pathways, especially as climate solutions.