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.

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