Reduce, reuse, revolutionize
By Jessie Emerson, Northern Group Recycling Chair
According to the World Resources Institute (2000), global energy consumption and manufacturing activity over the next 50 years may rise to three times current levels.
Garbage is accumulating. Cities and towns are closing their dumps and transporting trash miles to other trash sites. Truth or Consequences, N.M., will close its solid-waste facilities in August. Environment-related health problems account for many illnesses in the world today. Recycling and ecological health are interconnected. Ecosystem health and human health area interconnected.
We need to rethink our consumption patterns: Is this purchase really necessary? Will this purchase contribute to human and ecosystem health?
Do a life-cycle analysis of the next product you buy. Are toxic chemicals used in making the product? These toxic chemicals can remain in the environment for many years. They need to be banned. Do a total-cost analysis, which includes waste disposal and effect on the environment. How far did this object travel to come into your home?
Monitor your own trash for one week. Divide into categories: paper, cardboard, plastics etc. What are you recycling? What goes to the landfill? Here are five things you can do to reduce your waste:
1. Wash and reuse plastic baggies
2. Use cloth instead
3. Set your printer to print on both sides
4. Purchase products with little or no packaging
5. Choose packaging that can be reused or recycled.
Zero emissions and zero waste aim to achieve zero solid waste, zero hazardous waste, zero toxins, zero emissions and zero discharges. Zero emissions and zero wastes aim for businesses and institutions to do more with less until everything is done without producingwaste.
It involves transforming materials once thought of as waste into new products. A company called Preserve recycles #5 plastics into new products. There is no waste, and Preserve takes back products shipped to it to continue the reuse phase. Preserve also has a credit system to reward recyclers. Another company, Okabashi, makes shoes, flip-flops, and sandals from recycled plastic. Your old unwearable Okabashi shoes can be shipped back to be remade into another pair of recycled shoes.
Eco-efficiency promotes smarter design of products as prevention of waste.