Zero waste is a materials management approach that first prevents waste and then establishes reuse and recycling policies, programs, and infrastructure for all discarded materials. The goal is to ensure
that nothing is sent to a landfill or incinerator by ensuring that resources we take from the earth continue to be used efficiently without waste and excess burden on the environment.
We have a problem — a 500 billion-pound problem. According to a recent study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans generate about 500 billion lbs, or 250 million tons of municipal solid waste per year. We live in a society where many of us acquire and dispose of goods in ever-increasing amounts. This ultimately leads to the increase in the amount of generated waste, causing ground, air, and water pollution and negatively impacting the ecosystem.
We are all familiar with the 3 R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but have you ever thought about why these three Rs are in this specific order? There is a reason “recycle” comes last. Before we even think about recycling, we should be trying to reduce the amount of waste we generate, and reuse items we already have instead of buying new things. Once we have reduced and reused as much as possible, only then should we start recycling. Furthermore, we realized that the 3 R’s were not enough to combat the ever-increasing demand for
more “stuff” and the generation of waste. So we came up with our new Green Game Plan; the 6 R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Rot (compost), Recycle, Responsible Disposal, and Rethink. Read on, and follow the City of Arcata’s Green Game Plan (the 6 R’s) to start your zero waste endeavor!
Switching to reusables instead of single-use not only benefits
the environment, but also your wallet! It may seem a little costly at first having to invest in reusables,
but it can actually save money over time to use reusables compared to single-use items! Once you
get in the habit of using reusables , you’ll notice that you’re saving money as well as resources!
If you look around, there are many single use items you use everyday that can be replaced with reusables.
Some common everyday items that you can replace with reusables include: Water bottles,
mugs, eating utensils, and bags. It may also help to start your own “zero waste kit”, and get in the
habit of carrying these at all times.
- Reusable bag
- Reusable napkin
- Beeswax wrap
- Reusable water bottle
- Reusable coffee tumbler/mug/bottle
- Mason jar
- Reusable produce bags
- Reusable utensils
- Reusable straw
Food (locavore) — buy local and organic
Other purchases (“stuff”) — rent, borrow, or buy used
Zero Waste Travel Kit
Ways to reduce waste while traveling (highlight: single use plastic bottles, straws, single use takeout containers — styrofoam especially, plastic bags, reusable napkin,
Pack for a Purpose