What is zero waste?
The goal is to send nothing to a landfill. We reduce what we need, reuse as much as we can, send little to be recycled, and compost what we cannot. The goal of zero waste is to move to a circular economy where we write trash out of existence. Instead of discarding resources, we create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system.
What’s wrong with landfills?
The average American sends 4.4lbs of trash to the landfill every day, but landfills are toxic. They’re responsible for 20% of the methane emissions in the US, and they aren’t aerated for proper decomposition of natural materials. Toxins from cleaners, batteries, small electronics (and other items that shouldn’t be landfilled) leach into the soil and can run off into the ocean and ground water when it rains.
A lot of trash doesn’t even make it to the landfill. Instead it clutters the sides of roads and swirls in the ocean. Plastic is especially dangerous to the ocean, marine life, and our health. It doesn’t biodegrade it photodegrades which means it only gets smaller and smaller. Each micro-plankton in the ocean has 36 micro-plastic pieces to match. Plastic breaks down so small that it’s in 90% of drinking water, both bottled and tap world-wide.
Can’t we recycle our way out of this?
There’s simply too much to process, and we’re just consuming way too much. Recycling isn’t a perfect solution. While it plays into the solution, we have to lessen our dependence. Did you know, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled?
Recycle shouldn’t be the first line of defense, it should be a last resort. Most of our recycling isn’t even processed in the US. It’s processed in China, and China has put a ban on paper and plastic bales over 1% contamination. To put this in perspective, the best recycling facilities in the US are currently operating at 4% contamination level.
Each person makes a difference!
Help us bring Leonia closer to being a Zero Waste Community. Our school district is a huge part of our town, and this Green Team is working to bring our school system as close as we can to the day when we are sending nothing more landfills. You can help! Watch this space for updates on what we are doing in the schools, and bring the messages home. Participate. Explain the reasons to your family. Together, we can get there – one step at a time!