Is zero waste a new idea and how does reducing trash relate to our climate crisis? Zero waste means reducing our final trash as much as possible. All the things we consume and then throw out as trash such as disposable straws, to-go coffee cups or, in this Christmas season, plastic packaging materials and sparkling papers are generally made with plastics made from fossil fuels. They are not recyclable. According to the Plastics Ocean Foundation, we are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year. Fifty percent (50%) or 150 million tons is for single-use purposes, used for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. Even when burned plastics leave a toxic ash that has to be stored in our environment. Reducing trash is good for our environment and also good for our wallets. It may mean less direct cost to put out our trash and/or less cost for our towns for trash disposal. WIn Win!
Kathryn Kellogg in her book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste recommends a simple process for reducing waste. The process is useful no matter where we are in our environmental journey. She says “Get to know your trash.” How often do you throw away single-use containers, paper towels, straws, cups, plastic food packaging? Say NO to plastic straws or paper straws coated with plastic, plastic cup lids for coffee or soda and plastic water bottles. Get reusable grocery bags and use them for other purchases, something we are very familiar with. When we evaluate what we throw away, we can look for alternatives that help our environment. Then before buying, evaluate whether you need it and will use it or perhaps just want it. Consider how and where its made and the resources required to make it. And the idea of reducing waste is not new. Calvin Coolidge, born in Vermont, Governor of Massachusetts and President of the United States, had a saying that is applicable now: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, do without!”
-Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
We hope to help our community become stewards of creation.