Beacon Hill Civic Association Community Corner: What is Zero Waste?

By Janine Jay, BHCA Streets and Sidewalks Green Initiative

Zero Waste is a movement where you aim to send nothing to a landfill. To do it, you reduce what you need, reuse as much as you can, send little to be recycled, and compost what you cannot. As the old New England proverb goes “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without”! The ultimate goal of Zero Waste is to move to a circular economy, just like the natural world around us. Though it can seem daunting – waste is really just bad design.

So why do we need to do this? The average American sends 4.4 pounds of trash to the landfill every day. And besides the amount of trash, landfills are toxic- they’re responsible for 20% of the US methane emissions and they tend to have hazardous materials in them (batteries, cleaners, and electronics) that leach into the soil and can run off into the ocean and ground water. And this not your fault! We live in a disposable society where often times there aren’t any other options other than to generate trash. But it’s time to challenge that notion and create a world where we can make better choices.

So how do I get started? There are so many ways to start, you can’t really go wrong! You can replace a disposable item with reusable item such as replacing paper napkins with cloth napkins. Or you can do a trash audit to see what you tend to throw away and find a solution for a reusable or compostable option for that. Now this isn’t to say that you should throw out all your disposable items and buy all the replacements right away, it’s important to use up what you have, and then when you need to buy some more, opt for the reusable option instead! There are so many resources online with ideas of how to replace different items. And to be honest it is a really fun game. Once you start replacing items around your home, you become on the hunt for something else to replace. The sustainability bug really does get you!

https://www.boston.gov/environment-and-energy/zero-waste-boston

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