Zero Waste

As part of settling back down here is Sonoma County I have been plugging into local networks.  One great resource is Wacco Bulletin Board.  It is sort of like a craigslist, but with the intent of connecting conscious community.

About a week ago, I saw a post by someone asking for people’s opinion regarding zero waste.  He posted this video:

The idea of zero waste lifestyle is not new to me, and I’ve seen other people talk about their experience.  The idea intrigues me.  It fits right in with my values.  Might not be too hard to do; I am already a small waste generator.  For instance, it has been about two months since I’ve been to the dump (Yup, no mandatory garbage pick up here.) and I’ve got just a can of garbage – which is about half the size of those large cans I used to have in Phoenix.

I have been asking myself, “What would it take for our household to go zero waste by 2018?”

Very thought provoking.  What would your life look like if you went zero waste?  Are there changes that would be easy? and others that would be impossible?

Bea Johnson gives these guidelines for creating zero waste:

  1. Refuse
  2. Reduce
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycle
  5. Rot

The first big step is “refuse” things that will just end up in the waste stream.  This means I need to change where I shop.  In Phoenix, I got into the habit of shopping at Trader Joes.  They use tons of packaging on their vegetables!  It is easy enough for me to refuse that packaging by switching to purchasing my vegetables from one of the local produce stands.

What else would I need to refuse to eliminate waste?  Would I be willing to do it?  Could it be fun?

I think it is important to be aware of what we are doing and the consequences of our actions.  Generating waste is not just about having trash to get rid of, it is about the resources that go into the creation of that piece of plastic in the first place.

A zero waste lifestyle is also an excellent exercise in mindfulness.  Could refusing one plastic to-go container ultimately impact our health and the health of our children and the planet?  In how many different ways?  In my blog post, temptations, I illustrate my process of refusing to buy something inexpensive that I really wanted after I thought through the consequences of my actions.

So why wait until 2018 to go zero waste?  First, there is a lot of trash inside and outside of the house and at the farm that has accumulated.  I am waiting for summer to really clear the property.  Second, it is going to take me awhile to switch the stores I buy food from and set up the systems for a zero waste lifestyle.  Third, I am not sure I am 100% committed to the change.  I want to give myself sometime to ease into it.

The final question is, “Why would anyone adopt a zero waste lifestyle?”

While some people may be motivated by the lifestyle as an ideal, that is not me.  I wouldn’t feel like a failure if I got down to one garbage can full a year or even generated more.  I am more motivated by the challenge.  I think it will be fun to see how much waste I can eliminate.

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