On the Way to Zero Waste! Can We Become a Zero Waste Planet?

Environmentalists today are working hard to make Planet Earth a zero waste planet. But will their hard work formalize into reality?

Will they ever be able to achieve their dream, especially when millions of people do not have any awareness on how to smartly manage their waste?

Zero waste living is a noble idea and one that requires everyone to participate. It means contributing nothing to landfill, reducing what we need, reusing things as much as we can, spend as little as possible to be recycled, and convert garbage into compost.

Zero waste lifestyle requires that we completely redefine the system. Today we live in a linear economy where we consume resources from the earth and then dump them all the waste into a giant hole in the ground. Going zero waste is about making the shift to a circular economy where we do away with the idea of trash by coming back to nature where there is no trash and everything is usable. In the circular economy, we do not discard resources, but we create a system where all the resources can be brought back fully into the system.

zero waste living
Image by ravenrecycling.org

 

Producing less trash, eliminating demand for wasteful products, replacing plastics bags with reusable cloth bags, using less paper, recycling electronics and converting food waste and biodegradable materials into compost can help us in reducing our trash and carbon footprint on Planet Earth.

Lauren Singer, an environmental activist, blogger, and entrepreneur has switched to Zero Waste lifestyle in New York City. She has been on this journey since 2012. She documents her journey on Trash is for Tossers – a blog that shows how leading a Zero Waste lifestyle is simple, timely, fun, cost-effective, timely and entirely possible for every person.

let’s hear his story:

Sustainable Living and Co-Housing Alicante

Project of cooperative housing creation, combining the co-housing model with the principles of self-sustainability, energy efficiency and positive social impact. It is a community designed and created by its own residents, in which cooperation between them is encouraged, with an understanding of well-being.

Currently, the current community property system does not allow for cooperation between residents, especially if they have some kind of reduced mobility, which means that these people are very lonely. As we age, we become sedentary and lonely, causing depression, premature aging, and other illnesses caused by this cause.

In the 80’s a group of young people in Denmark get together to decide the community in which they want to live, from there co-housing is created, where a group of people plan their future from buying the land together, plotting it and creating basic and affordable housing, where they encourage co-living and solidarity.

Eco-housing Alicante is a housing cooperative project, combining the co-housing model with the principles of self-sustainability, energy efficiency and positive social impact.

It is a type of collaborative housing that tries to overcome the alignment produced by the compartmentalization of current housing, in which no one knows their neighbors and in which there is no sense of community.

Its values are aligned with those of Christian Felber’s well-known Economics of the Common Good, and these are a foundation of basic principles that represent human values: trust, honesty, responsibility, cooperation, solidarity, generosity and compassion, among others.

These are modular single-family houses, of the passive solar type, using resources of the bio-climatic architecture combined with a much higher energy efficiency than traditional construction. These houses have very low energy consumption and offer a comfortable atmosphere all year round without the use of conventional heating. They would be designed as smart-houses, taking advantage of digital technologies at the service of the above-mentioned values.

There would be a specific common area for waste management, composting and a workshop for the re-use/recycling of various equipment. There is also a common laundry area, social club or living area. Playground, accessible children’s playground and adapted sports area.

This project is designed to be carried out, between the sea and the mountains, somewhere in the so-called region of Alacantí (Busot, El Campello, Aigues, Alicante, Agost, Jijona, Mutxamel, San Juan de Alicante, San vicente or Torremanzanas), accessible and with all the public services needed, from the circular economy, self-sufficiency, and the least environmental impact and the lowest environmental impact.

All this is seen from a social perspective of intergenerational coexistence, mutual support, accessibility for people with disabilities and/or dependency and solidarity, respecting the private spaces of each unit of coexistence.

Sustainable develpment goals reached

Lazaro Project Association. An Eco-Friendly Option For Textile Waste

Circular economics is a recent economic model that has emerged as a response to the new needs of society and our planet.

These needs have arisen because of the continuous use of a linear economic model, which has been developing since the industrial revolution, with which it has reached a point where there are no longer enough resources to extract, and through which we are contaminating the planet more and more.

Circular  economy,  as  effective path and solution  to  these  problems,  proposes  a  series  of  changes, such  as  the  reuse  of  waste  to  manufacture  new  products  or  the  manufacture  of products  that  are  long  lasting  in  time  so  as  to generate  the  least  possible residues  in the slower and more moderate way.

Increasingly,  more  and  more  industries  are  getting  involved  with  the  cause  and are beginning to be involved in this change.

The Lazaro Project Association is a clear example of a circular economy model in the textile sector. This organization was founded in 1994 in Alicante, Spain. The objective of this initiative works through economic and social management, recycling and reuse of solid urban waste.

Key facts:

  • By 2017, the emission of almost 200,000 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere has been avoided.
  • Every kilogram of clothes that is reused and not incinerated avoids the emission of 3.17 kg of CO2.

The problem

European textile companies barely recycle a fifth of the clothing (20%) they generate. According to Greenpeace’s latest report, Fashion at the croos road, 80% of clothes consumed in the European Union have no outlet, either for a second life or to enter into recycling processes. The environmental consequences of this textile explosion cannot be resolved in the short term. This industry is the second most polluting in the world. Despite the fact that large companies have eliminated many hazardous chemical elements from their factories, their production accounts for 3% of the world’s carbon dioxide, some 850 million tons.

The Solution

4000 tons of textile waste turned into solidarity.

This activity is designed and managed as a production structure, whose process consists of the collection of textile waste, household goods and bulky items in different municipalities of the province of Alicante, for subsequent selection, reuse and sale in the various second-hand shops located in the cities of Alicante, Elche and Villajoyosa.

It is estimated that 12% is the one capable of taking to the end of the recovery cycle, 54% is the one that is recovered through other social entities, 18% is recycled with specialized entities and only 16% is disposed to incinerators.

From the outset, they have been clear that all the clothes people no longer wear could at all costs prevent them from ending up in a landfill. Not only that, but they also realized that textiles, along with other items destined for garbage, could become a way of promoting social projects.

Lázaro Project is framed in two fundamental axes: social and environmental work.

Helping people

The management of textile waste brings great social benefits. The Lazaro Project contributes to the creation of green jobs and the social economy by promoting the creation of inclusive, stable and quality jobs.

Helping the planet

The reuse and recycling of textiles favours efficient use of resources, environmental protection and the fight against climate change. They reduce waste in controlled landfills and incineration plants, as well as the emission of greenhouse gases. Every kilogram of clothing that is reused and not incinerated prevents the emission of 3,169 kg of CO2, according to data from the European Commission.

The 18,281 tons collected in Spain in 2017 therefore represents a saving of 57,934 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. They are equivalent to the annual emission of 21,760 cars (circulating 15,000 km annually) or the annual carbon dioxide uptake of 432,349 trees.

How Circular Economy has become the effective path about the Sustainable Development

The challenges of creating sustainable food supplies, protecting our biodiversity and curbing climate change are enormous. Considering this, the concept of circular economy has become a topic of relevance among policy makers and sustainability advocates globally. Its popularity can be attributed to the increasing threats to the planet arising from unsustainable use of natural resources and technological innovations.

Circular economy depicts an alternative to the make-use-dispose approach of linear economy. It involves the regenerative use of resources in such a way that waste and pollution is reduced to the barest minimum. It advocates product-life extension and reconditioning activities at all levels. Also, regenerative economy entails divorcing the consumption of limited resources from economic activities in a systemic manner.

Circular economy and benefits for society

The importance of circular economy in the society cannot be downplayed. Its benefits cover virtually every sector of the economy. Closed loop economy creates more competitive business and economic opportunities with direct positive impacts on the environment. According to the Ellen MacArthur foundation’s 2013 report, up to $700billion worth of opportunity exists in the consumer goods sector, which absorbs a huge portion of consumer spending globally. An instance of this opportunity is in the fashion industry where huge savings can be made through the reuse and redesign of several materials. This brings to fore the circular fashion concept which also encourages the making and transportation of fashion products in eco-friendly ways. Supporting this concept is swap.com, an online store where people can sell pre-owned items in the US.

 

Circular economy
Image by wtskiphire

 

Circular Economy & Climate Change

Furthermore, circular economy presents a means of addressing climate change and global warming through the utilization of renewable energy. In this regard, ideas are being developed into full projects around the EU. One of these is Advanced Substrate Technologies project, which focuses on recovering energy and nutrients from spent mushroom substrates. In addition, the collection and processing of household food wastes to generate biogas and fertilizer is another opportunity with a huge potential for viable income generation.

Closed loop economy is critical to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the 12th goal which is to Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns. This obviously requires companies to come up with new production methods which closes the materials loop, and the adoption of service-based business models where maintainance and repair can be offered as a value proposition. Dell introduced the use of environment-certified, closed-loop recycled plastics in the production of its computers in 2014. In a related event, Walmart launched a $100million closed loop fund, a five-year action plan of creating recycling infrastructure across US cities. These efforts are being developed to cut down on e-waste and create a means of multi-dimensional revenue generation respectively.

Without an element of doubt, circular economy is a concept that should be embraced by all and sundry. The afterlife purpose of every material should be put in proper perspective in a bid to make traditional waste useful in other forms and contribute to environmental sustainability.