Zero Waste

Welcome to Good Dirt Radio….reporting on positive change taking root.

Gunter Pauli, sees waste as a thing of the past. He is known around the world as a visionary statesman, scientist, [economist] and entrepreneur. In response to our exponentially rising population and demand for durable goods, Pauli’s breakthrough book, The Blue Economy,explains why and how we can reinvent business models to operate with the ‘pervasive logic and sensitivity of ecosystems.’ In the natural world, nutrients and energy are abundant, efficiency grows as an ecosystem improves itself …and it responds to the needs of all involved with multiple benefits, and no waste. Business models designed like ecosystems can make more money, provide more jobs and better products, all with less environmental degradation and waste.

Gary Liss, from Loomis, CA, is another educator and activist in the world of zero waste. He consults with local governments and corporations on eliminating waste and says that while the basics of zero waste are reduce, reuse and recycle, there’s a strongemphasis on more sensiblebusiness design choices to reduceand reuseresources to decrease waste, recycling and composting the rest. He says that already problematic landfills have become concentrated traps for toxins andwasted resources and release methane gas into an already warming atmosphere.

Liss: A lot of people first roll their eyes when they hear about zero waste and say, well, that’s not possible, its not attainable. And we say that zero waste is what happens in nature. Over 3.5 billion years, nature hasn’t created any landfills or incinerators. Everything in nature is a resource or a home to something else. And so what we need to do is learn from nature, how we can use biology, chemistry, natural principles, to solve these problems that we have.

Liss says that zero waste systems are a way to live renewably, starting right where you are.

Liss: The key for individuals is look at where you can have most influence; at home at work at play, at school, at your college, at your church or synagogue. However you’ re engaged in the community, see whether you can do it as a zero waste event. That’s what we’re seeing around the country as one of the first things individuals are doing is they’re trying to get something going about zero waste. They can work with their local recycling coordinators, check out the websites about who provides services for recycling and composting and set up the systems needed to enable people to have these event with basically, no waste at the end.

Liss mentions some important economic benefits from reducing waste.

Liss: Well, today, one of the biggest drivers for zero waste is the fact that it creates a lot more jobs then wasting does. If you have 10,000 tons of material, if you landfill you create one job. If you compost you create 4 jobs, if you recycle, you create 10 jobs and if you do reuse of those materials, you create 75 to 250 good green jobs. The recycling industry is actually as large as the automobile industry in America and as large as the motion picture industry in California. Its already a huge part of our economy. The fact is there’s a lot more potential because we’re still wasting a lot of stuff.

Liss claims that the majority of all purchases of the average business go to waste but that waste is a design decision, a choice… that can be improved by analyzing the whole system and learning from nature. Thousands of businesses save money from reducing and reusing materials and waste, for example, using returnable systems for shipping containers and packaging and recycling and composting the rest.

Liss: Today, businesses are showing they can save money, reduce liability, increase their efficiency and reduce their greenhouse gasses, do the right thing and get the loyalty of their customers, their employees and the community in which they live and work. So we really see a huge increase in interest in zero waste and because it is such a key part of addressing climate change at the local government level, zero waste is how we’re going to become more sustainable as individuals, as businesses and communities. This is the wave of the future.

Every dollar is a vote. From buying products with less packaging that’s more re-useable, to composting organic matter into rich soil, and simply consuming less… businesses, communities and families are discovering ways to conserve resources and minimize waste while saving money. Finding ways to rethink, redesign and reduce the energy and waste footprint of our everyday lives can help move us toward a saner, more sustainable future.

We encourage you to find local groups or initiatives to help you find creative ways to reduce and reuse your waste. Change comes from the bottom up when we learn about our options and take action.

Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio, digging up good news…. for a change.

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