Waste is much more than a technical problem: it is part of a larger web of health, equity, race, power, gender, poverty, and governance issues.
Because of this, we only achieve true solutions when our work supports systems of social and economic justice and ecological sustainability. Without an understanding of this broader context, policy-makers can fall into the trap of seeing "waste" primarily as a technical problem awaiting the next magic solution. Then an incinerator or "sanitary landfill" can be perceived as a solution, leaving the fundamental model of our economies, which depend on a high level of wasting of both the planet and its communities, unquestioned.
The good news is that severe threats to human health and livelihoods often inspire strong grassroots action and motivate people to come together in defense of their communities. And although the wealth and lobbying power of the waste industry is great, the victories of GAIA's members and allies are many.
GAIA believes that we will never win unless we see our specific struggle as inseparable from that of the broader movements toward social and economic justice and ecological sustainability. We are not fighting incinerators just to stop incinerators, but because we see stopping incinerators as a strategic leverage point to advance a deeper transformation of society. We absolutely cannot stop toxic pollution without simultaneously promoting environmental and social justice, because pollution depends on and perpetuates injustice. Because of this, supporting the principles of environmental justice is a key component in our work for zero waste.
As one GAIA member explained: We need to turn NIMBY (not in my backyard) to NOPE (not on planet Earth).