Monday, February 22, 2010

Zero waste, CO2, the consumer and business

A connection is being made today that CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions are a measurement of waste at their very core. If your product is being shipped with a lot of waste in it, that's adding to fuel and shipping costs, which adds to your carbon footprint. ... Nobody in business wants to pay for shipping waste.

The Zero Waste movement elevates today's practice of recycling and landfill diversion to a new height of eco-efficiency. It promotes the intelligent redesign of goods and services that prevent waste from being manufactured in the first place.

Current practices are products designed with planned obsolescence, where products are created to be become obsolete in a few short years so that consumers must constantly replace them, this process is referred to as cradle to grave. How many years do you replace your computer and cell phone. Planned obsolescence is now encompassing the zero-waste strategy that ensures products produced from beginning to end through smart design are created to be repaired, reused, recycled, regardless of life span. This process is called cradle to cradle.

Cradle to cradle mimics nature where nothing is wasted. Landfills are a modern mans invention. Smart design converts what used to be “waste” to “resource” — material for the creation of new goods or services.

Because the products are going to be reused harmful chemicals are cheaper to be designed out products then to pay for their safe removal and find handlers, storage and a use for them the second and third time around.

“Waste equals inefficiency” The whole lifecycles of products need to be analyzed to reduce inefficiencies in the use of materials, energy and human resources, and to eliminate by-products with no clear use or potential value.

Since waste is a sign of inefficiency, the reduction of waste usually reduces costs. One simple example of cutting waste and costs to a company is to remove water in products such as laundry detergent. Concentrated detergent with 2/3 of the water removed reduces packaging, size and weight. This considerably reduces unnecessary water use, packaging resources, storage and shipping costs.

A zero-waste strategy is a sound business tool that supports sustainability by protecting the environment, reducing costs and creating jobs. And it promotes product stewardship, in which everyone involved in the lifespan of the product is called upon to play a part in reducing its environmental impact and extending its usefulness.

Designers, manufacturers, distributors, and most of all consumers — all bear a responsibility for the things we create, transport, purchase and discard.

As a consumers you vote with every dollar you spend. Buy from companies that don't waste your money in plastic or unrecycled packaging, harmful chemicals and planned obsolescence. Buy smart design, recycled and recylable or no packaging, bulk, clean benign chemicals, low processing, local and quality. Learn about your supplier and their products. Find out what is the process to bring that cupcake to you from the local backery or from a corporate chain. How far did that cupcake travel to get to you. The further it came the more CO2 it used and chemicals and packaging were needed to preserve it's 'freshness" and "taste". As consumers nobody can sell us something we don't want to pay for. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Zero waste will help us get to a cleaner smarter community free of landfills, harmfull chemicals and wasted resources.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Natural Daylighting - Clean and Bright

After working in the office for two years with only natural daylighting tubes to light the office, I have to say I'm impressed. I like the bright clean white light that dims slightly when clouds pass overhead and brightens with the sunshine. It keeps me connected to the weather and reminds me that there are other things in the world than my desk and my work. On the sunniest days rainbows dance across the walls in the office. When I compare the lighting tubes to the standard lighting in the office next door and it seems dingy and yellow over there.

I can honestly say we have only used standard lighting on less than 7 days over those two years, during the darkest and stormiest of weather. Otherwise even in those not so bright times we have had plenty of light to work by. Michigan is know for cloudy gray weather in the winter.

My favorite story I repeat often is of a customer and her husband who like to lie on the kitchen floor during lightning storms. They say the light show is amazing and ordered a few more for their cottage. This is a trend I see regularly and understand it. Once you have one you can find a reason for another. I have a cousin who is on her fourth tube.

There is nothing like natural daylighting, now to get one for the kitchen, ok maybe a second for the basement stairwell as well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Introduction to Trash Talk

Trash Talk is for business, homes, churches, festivals and events, all of us. Trash Talk is about trash/waste management and what we can do to dramatically reduce our landfill contributions.

Zero Waste embodies the cradle-to-cradle concept that all things (including consumer products) mimic nature in the actions from creation to deconstruction back to creation. In nature nothing is wasted, all things have circular purposes throughout time without end. Trash Talk seeks to end the cradle-to-grave practice we are familiar with.

Most of the posts here will only be focused on immediate zero waste actions that we all can do while understanding the underlining concept of cradle to cradle.