START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Extreme Recycling and the Zero Waste Movement

Extreme Recycling and the Zero Waste Movement

I don’t have to extol the virtues of recycling. It’s like buckling up in the car: If you’re not doing it at this point, it’s because you’re ignoring it, not because you’re ignorant. But while I’m glad there are so many people who dutifully sort their stuff every week, it’s time to step it up. Because, really, how hard is it to stack your newspapers in a pile?

That’s why, on a sunny Saturday during a recent trip to Colorado, I worked with the folks at Eco-Cycle, a Boulder-based organization on the forefront of the zero-waste movement. Zero waste, if you can’t tell by the name, is all about doing everything possible to keep stuff out of landfills by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Throughout the day I spent with Eco-Cycle, people brought in all kinds of hard-to-recycle items like lawn furniture, toilets, and kids’ plastic toys, which we then sorted for recycling of some kind or another. Consider this your primer on the lifestyle–oh, yes, the lifestyle–that is extreme recycling.

DON’T BE A RECYCLING SLUT
That’s right, be choosy about who you recycle with. “Some people get upset that they have to pay to recycle certain items, like hard drives,” explains Kary Schumpert, Eco-Cycle’s Longmont community outreach coordinator, as we direct the business end of a donated toilet to the commode holding pen. But many free programs just ship their e-waste to African and Asian countries, Schumpert says, creating dumping sites around the world. Organizations that are part of the Basel Action Network (ban.org) ensure American trash is recycled responsibly within the United States.

INVITE SOME WORMS OVER TO DINNER
Yes, worm bins are one of the greatest ways to compost because they poop out rich soil for you to use in your garden. “Worms make great pets: They don’t bark, you don’t have to walk them, and they don’t mind if you come home late from work,” Schumpert says. Point taken, but if you’re squeamish about having creepy crawlies in your kitchen, she’s willing to let it slide and suggests a regular tumbler composter or a chicken-wire bin in your backyard. But worms are definitely more hardcore. (Learn how to make a compost heap here.)

SHOP AT HOME
Don’t worry, this isn’t a call for DIY or an endorsement of the Home Shopping Network. Eco-Cycle’s anti-overconsumption philosophy means that if you have a fancy apple peeler whose blade has become dull (guilty as charged), you don’t throw it out and buy a new one–you find out if the company sells replacement blades. In my case, they do. Duh. Now take this realization and apply it to everything in your house. (And check out Sustainable Dave’s take on the overconsumption problem here.)

CONSOLIDATE OFFICE SUPPLIES
You know the drill: Every time you print single-sided, a giant redwood clutches its trunk and dies. Okay, not really, but simple stuff can save a bundle. Eco-Cycle also recommends asking to see if office managers can arrange a monthly supply swap with other divisions in your company or building. I mean, who needs to continue stockpiling highlighters for the end of the world? “Next, you can get your office cafeteria to begin composting,” Schumpert says. Let’s baby-step it with the highlighters first, though.

START WITH THE BATHROOM
It’s often overwhelming to reduce in-home consumption all at once, so Schumpert suggests zero-wasting one room at a time, beginning you know where. “If you haven’t already, put in a low-flow showerhead; cut back on your toilet’s water consumption by putting a weighted two-liter bottle in the tank; and take shorter showers,” she says. While riding that wave of accomplishment, zero-waste the next room. “People get too hung up on the zero in zero waste,” Schumpert adds. “You do what you can and it will build.”

Plenty is an environmental media company dedicated to exploring and giving voice to the green revolution that will define the 21st Century. Click here to subscribe to Plenty.

Read more: Home, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , , ,

By Annemarie Conte, Plenty magazine

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

13 comments

+ add your own
5:18AM PDT on Aug 7, 2010

i work at a shredding companies fort lauderdale based and i love my job cos it's way greener than so many others.

5:36AM PDT on Jul 16, 2010

Here are some which probably you all know but I thing we should remember them well :)

# recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.
# 1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
# 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.
# 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials.

See more here: Junk Removal London

12:51PM PST on Dec 19, 2009

had forgotten the 2 litre water bottle trick thanks

9:05PM PDT on May 2, 2009

About the water waste, I hear "shorter shower" all the time. I personally turn the water off while I'm soaping up. It saves water and I can take my time shaving, etc.

9:24PM PST on Jan 14, 2009

"You know the drill: Every time you print single-sided, a giant redwood clutches its trunk and dies."

I LOVE that.

Also, great article! =D

5:26AM PST on Nov 14, 2008

One of the best ways to keep stuff out of landfills is to find new homes for the things you no longer need. The Freecycle listservs enable you to do just that -- you offer what you don't want and get some of what you do need -- all without contributing to additional waste & packaging. For more info. and to find a group near you, check out: http://www.freecycle.org/

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,629 groups with 6,098,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free.

5:25AM PST on Nov 14, 2008

One of the best ways to keep stuff out of landfills is to find new homes for the things you no longer need. The Freecycle listservs enable you to do just that -- you offer what you don't want and get some of what you do need -- all without contributing to additional waste & packaging. For more info. and to find a group near you, check out: http://www.freecycle.org/

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,629 groups with 6,098,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free.

12:12PM PST on Nov 13, 2008

A very longshot idea here, but what if all of the coffee shopes and the genral public saved ALL of their coffee grounds and tea bags with the strenged tops ripped off, because these two items, the paper filters are added compost, make a ready-to-us compost to grow nearly ANY food crop to the max. The public could deposit it in those oversized plastic coffee containers with the resealable tops, and deposit this super-compost in special bins put in all shopping mall parking lots. This super-compost would be MOSTLY taken away by all organic farming outfits in cajoots with the food kitchens, to use this unlimited compost to grow food to feed the poor. Due to the diasterous global economy, nobody has any money to contribute to feed the homeless, etc., but they all CAN afford to give them a renewable compost like this to insure nobody starves to death. Retro-shipping all discarded coffee groudns and tea bags to the coffee bean growers overseas would insure they are always economically strong, due to the unlimited fertilizer this would provide. All the flower shoppes and organic lawn maintaince people would take all they could as well, and we would be eliminating a LOT of landfill trash in the process. Technically, this could work, but although I send this suggestion to a lot of relavant recycling links, I don't know if the public has the will power to make it happen. That covers it.

10:45AM PST on Nov 13, 2008

You can just toss the goods out in a corner and ignore it. Mine rots down with no effort whatsoever. I toss the grass clippings on it when we mow. I don't even turn it. I definitely didn't build a "house" for it. The dog is our little piggy and she eats what is tasty to her and leaves the rest. It's full of worms that moved in on their own. That's it.

8:31AM PST on Nov 13, 2008

Have you seen the countertop compost crocks? Keeps you from having to run to the compost pile all day.
http://www.green-vaccine.com

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

God Bless these Beautiful Dogs & a BIG THANKS to their Rescuers too.. May they find their Forev…

When sourcing oil to cook with one must realize these fragile polyunsaturates are oxidized by the ex…

It looks to me like they stated facts in theirs statements. They do not claim it is proven to kill …

Contd. ... learn more. And I don't mean from "health magazines" or diet "gurus" or your mom either …

I love when people come over and comment how my shelter dogs are so great , then go to a breeder . T…

CONTACT THE EDITORS



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.