Sunday, May 09, 2010

Getting beyond waste

Waste is a human conceit: If we cannot find an immediate value for something, we toss it somewhere, bury it, or burn it. However, in Nature there is no such thing as waste. Everything has a role or it would not exist.

Hopefully, as we move into the future, we’ll get over the notion of waste. We’ll consider Zero Waste, where everything we produced gets thought about ‘from cradle to cradle,’ from the moment we use a resource to create a product to the moment we are done with the product. Then we won’t be trashing our resources or littering the planet.

This is not wild idealism. The new Green Business model has adopted this concept of Zero Waste because it means leaner, more efficient businesses. What business can afford to waste money?

Speaking of re-thinking waste, the New York, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) just announced a measure to reduce waste. “DEC Releases Plan to Put New York on a Path ‘Beyond Waste’: New Direction in Solid Waste Management Focuses on Reducing Packaging and Waste and Using 'Greener' Materials.” In "Beyond Waste: A Sustainable Materials Management Strategy for New York", the plan “sets forth a new approach for the state - a shift from focusing on "end of pipe" waste management to reducing waste from the start - that will help minimize waste, increase the use of materials that can be reused or recycled, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase green jobs.”

But this wise use of our resources and producing less waste isn’t going to just happen. The DEC needs feedback. Your feedback. It’s your planet, why let someone else trash it?

In The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard presents a 20-minute web-film that explores the often hidden environmental and social consequences of America’s love affair with its stuff. Currently, the film has been viewed over 10 million times on-line and in thousands of schools, houses of worship, community centers and businesses around the world.”

Other states and countries are changing their policies towards waste. They are creating a cleaner, healthier environment, and more jobs. Check out Beyond Waste and attend one of the several hearings coming to a place near you. If you cannot attend one of the hearings, you can write in your response. “Comments should be submitted to Ed Dassatti, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-7250.” You can comment through July 6.

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