Taking out the trash: Local residents work to limit personal waste
Earth is a place that needs to preserved. It is our only home, and lots of people have found ways to take action to help keep the earth in its most natural form possible.
THE ZERO WASTE LIFESTYLE
Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages a new resource “life cycle”. The goal of Zero Waste is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the oceans, according to goingzerowaste.com
Zero Waste has grown in popularity in recent years. This is both because of rising global warming concerns, and heavy pollution on earth. Zero Waste is all about finding alternative ways to recycle waste, finding a way to repurpose all waste.
The Zero Waste movement has also featured some criticism. It is commonly referred to as “radical” in a way. This is because the philosophy is all about how everything should be recycled and reused.
“The whole idea of absolutely nothing being wasted and everything being reused is a little extreme. I think recycling and reusing items is a great thing to do, but it would be very hard to recycle everything”, said Orange High School parent Kerry Renner.
There are a lot of Americans who do recycle, as about 34 Percent of all waste in america is recycled, according to planetaid.org
If Zero Waste were to become a full reality, it would have a lot of benefits. Earth’s resources would be much cleaner, and more pure, Which would certainly improve the overall quality of human life.
“Zero waste requires us as consumers to demand that companies redesign their materials so that they do not become obsolete and can be reused, therefore avoiding a landfill,” says Orange High School Science Teacher Jessica Timmons.
Zero Waste is good for the local community too. Unwanted food can go to homeless shelters and food pantries, instead of getting thrown out and wasted. This ensures that all food is being eaten, which keeps less people hungry, and more garbage out of landfills.
“Having a zero waste community reduces the cost of having to haul garbage to a landfill, will reduce the need to construct or create new landfills and therefore improve water quality of the community because less runoff from the landfills would make it to our water supply.” Says Orange High School Science Teacher Jessica Timmons.
Another positive of Zero Waste is it reduces our climate Impact. The U.S. EPA has estimated that about 42 Percent of greenhouse gas emissions are in fact caused by the use and production of foods, products, and goods. Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling will significantly reduce our carbon emissions.
One of the most obvious benefits of recycling and Zero Waste is the dramatic reduction in pollution, and increased conservation of natural resources.
Time has shown that our current culture of consumption is unsustainable. This is because of the harmful things humans do to get raw materials to produce goods, such as logging a forest, or drilling for oil, only for these goods to end up in a landfill when they are used, According to torontoenvironment.org
A Zero Waste approach to this problem would of course conserve natural resources, and reduce pollution from extraction.
THE COMPOST SOLUTION
A huge part of the zero-waste movement is composting, but some people don’t even know what composting is.
Jen Host, mom and Powell resident, is an at-home composter determined to limit the amount of trash that goes to her landfill and by using her compost as fertilizer for her garden.
“Composting is an aerobic process that needs air to decompose solid organic waste. Composting is the process where organic matter decomposes; materials that normally would be a waste, products such as food scraps, leaves, or grass are used to compost.” Host said. “The organic material turns into a hummus-like material, known as compost which is an excellent fertilizer for plants, soil, and gardens.”
Composting is a science and can be broken down to a fairly simple concept, according to Nancy from Price Farm Organics.
“Composting is a method of hurrying along what is going to happen naturally in the forest, if you put natural materials in a pile, the microbes will heat it up and it will break down, then it becomes a fertilizer,” Nancy said.
To make that fertilizer, it all starts with a compost bin. When it comes to starting up a compost bin at home only one item other than your food scraps is needed: your container.
“You can either compost from open air bins outside in your yard,” Host said “or compost in a small container in your home if you live in a city that compost.”
Other than your bin and compostables, there is a little bit more that goes into composting according to Host.
“Composting requires the following three main components: human work, aerobic conditions and of internal biological heat. There are four equally important ingredients needed to compost: nitrogen, oxygen, and water needed to compost,” Host said.
When composting at home , these components and materials are very much controllable because as the only people involved are the inhabitants, but at a school it is not so easy with the big numbers, Sandra Tuthill, owner of Tuthill Farms and Composting INC said.
Schools could easily compost grass clipping and leaves but the “other side of composting that is food scraps is harder considering you have to segregate your food because some food is not compostable,” Tuthill said.
"Foods that would not be compostable, include dairy products, bread and meat. That only leaves fruits and vegetables for composting. There would also have to be patrolling food clean up for plastic and other non- compostables," Nancy said. “You would have to also look out for kids who are sick as they can affect a lot of people, the sickness could potentially ruin the pile that becomes fertilizer that could contaminate the plants it helps grow.” In fact, Price Farm Organics won’t even consider taking school compost in fear of contamination.
“We turn our product into something consumers will buy and consumers don’t want anything contaminated with other products or disease,” Nancy said.
Even though companies won’t take high school compost, that doesn’t mean schools can’t compost.
“If schools could do it themselves and be self-policing it can be done. If they are willing to put in the effort, it is something that could be very beneficial to our environment as schools are such big organizations,” Nancy said.
Composting is a topic that branches from the ideals of zero waste, and families who compost are part of the trend.
“While our family is not zero waste, we try to minimize trash to the landfill. We typically have one regular size garbage bag for the entire week and over a large garbage bin full of recycling material,” Host said.
Host said she is still having a substantial impact on our environment.
“I compost because I want to reduce the amount of trash that goes to the landfill. In addition, I want to use the soil to help organically fertilize our garden. If we have salad or something else that goes bad, I prefer to reuse it in a positive manner,” Host said.
Although Zero Waste can be considered extreme and radical by some, it can certainly do a lot of good for the planet. After all, it is our only home, and we need to preserve it and take good care of it. With everyone’s help, that goal is in reach.