Zero waste means reducing what we trash in landfills and incinerators to zero.
Most things can and should be safely and economically recycled, reused or composted. We also need to simply use less and redesign our products so that they are toxic-free and built to last.
Cities around the world, including Buenos Aires, Canberra,
Kovalam and San Francisco, have already passed zero waste resolutions and have innovative
plans to reduce their waste disposal levels to zero. The leadership in these cities realizes that waste is a sign of an inefficient system. They are modeling efficiency and sustainability by creating
well-paying green-collar jobs in the reuse and recycling industries, reducing consumption, and requiring that products be made in ways that
are safe for people and the planet. These cities are proving that our
air, soil and water do not have to be polluted, and that our natural
resources don't have to be trashed.
Zero waste programs include all of the following strategies:
- Reducing consumption and discards
- Reusing discards
- Extended producer responsibility
- Comprehensive recycling
- Comprehensive composting or bio-digestion of organic materials
- Citizen participation
- A ban on waste incineration
- Effective policies, regulations, incentives, and financing structures to support these systems.
Adopting a zero waste approach to resource management is critical to the future of our planet. GAIA's blog Zero Waste World is grounded in the idea that zero waste is a real climate solution that addresses some of the root causes of global warming.
Be sure to check out GAIA's On the Road to Zero Waste: Successes and Lessons from Around the World, a collection of nine case studies that describe how communities around the world have implemented zero waste practices.