A chat with Kathryn Kellogg of www.goingzerowaste.com on going Zero Waste
The result of our throwaway society
One of the things about learning about sustainability is there is always something new to learn. I have been aware for some time we discard too much of the materials which no longer serve its original use. These materials wind up in landfills where they wind up as a threat to the environment. Recently, I had the opportunity to connect with Kathryn Kellogg the founder of goingzerowaste.com about zero waste. I hope the readers of this blog post will find what she had to say as interesting as I did.
The questions and their answers
Question # 1: Define zero waste
Answer: Zero waste means putting value back into our belongings. We’ve become so detached from what we consume. We eat on the go without thinking of where our food came from. We buy clothes without thinking about the fabric or who made them. We’re so detached from our supply chain.
For every pound of trash we throw away 70 lbs of trash was thrown away in the supply chain. The average American throws out 4.4 lbs of trash a day. It’s a huge problem.
I think earth overshoot day explains it best. It’s a day that marks when we’ve used all the resources the earth can sustainably produce for the next year. We hit that day in the beginning of August in 2016. We’re using almost two earth’s worth of resources a year. We’re borrowing time from the future.
We have to reframe our thinking when it comes to consumption. We have to put value back into our belongings and break away from throwaway culture.
Question # 2: What are the easiest way to reduce your footprint?
I have a great Top 10 list here: https://www.goingzerowaste.com/top-10-to-get-started/
Question #3: What is the relationship between Waste and climate change?
Answer: Like I said earlier, trash is a physical representation of all the resources we’ve consumed. Even though we’re only seeing a tiny part of it. By using less resources we’re helping the environment. Also, composting is huge. Organic waste can’t decompose in a landfill. It tried to decompose, but can’t because it’s surrounded with inorganic material and lack of oxygen.
Trapped in the landfill it emits methane which is 20 times more powerful than your average greenhouse gas.
Question #4: Where can you go if someone what’s to find out more about Zero Waste?
Answer: I would suggest plugging into a local group. If you can’t find one there are plenty of online groups, and if you’re looking for specific resources, I would recommend my blog and several others. https://www.goingzerowaste.com/ and https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/my-favorite-zero-waste-resources
Question # 5: How did you get into Zero Waste?
Answer: I kinda stumbled into it. After a breast cancer scare at 20, I started questioning everything I was putting in and on my body. A lot of the ingredients in everyday products aren’t tested for safety or long-term effects on human health. When I was looking into this I found that plastic is an endocrine disruptor which mimics estrogen. I tried to avoid plastic for those reasons.
Later, I learned it went beyond human health. Our planet can’t digest plastic. Every piece of plastic ever made still exists. It doesn’t biodegrade, it photodegrades. Which means it gets smaller and smaller and smaller. It’s devastating nature, especially the ocean. After quitting plastic, zero waste came naturally.
Question #6: What is the source of the most waste?
Answer: Single use plastic. Things like water bottles, grocery bags, straws, takeout containers. All of this stuff can be easily avoided just by bringing your own. Is it that difficult to bring a reusable grocery bag?
Question #7: What is key to becoming Zero Waste society?
Answer: Education and awareness. Most people don’t know that trash is a problem. They don’t understand the amount of resources that go into building a small object, they quickly toss aside. For example, it takes 8 gallons of water to make one paper plate. That’s crazy!
You could wash all the plates, cups, and silverware for less than the water it takes to make one plate.
Question #8: Are there any communities which are Zero or have pledged to become Zero Waste?
Answer: Several cities have pledged to be zero waste. San Francisco’s goal is by 2020. So much of the zero-waste mentality in a municipal setting is focused strictly on landfill with recycling viewed as the savior.
Recycling is great, but it’s not the solution. The first step is to reduce and reuse. Recycling is a last resort, it’s best to not have any recycling in the first place.
Question #9: Who were the pioneers of the Zero Waste movement?
Answer: Our grandparents. This isn’t new. This is the way things were up until the 50s.
Question #10: What do you think is critical to moving towards a Zero Waste society?
Answer: Education, awareness, simple solutions, and world-wide composting.
As our landfills continue to fill
The concept of Zero Waste can prevent the production of greenhouse gases. As alternative to landfilling solid waste, communities can to explore ways to use these resources to create new products, thereby saving landfill space, reducing transportation related costs and pollution, protecting the environment, and helping local economies. Why wouldn’t we want embrace beginning to reduce the waste we use today?