Whatever your political party affiliation, we can all agree that strong, centralized environmental policy will not be a priority under Donald Trump. If Americans care about a healthy planet, we’ll have to persuade state and local governments to care too, or roll up our sleeves and get to work ourselves.
For this reason, I’ve challenged myself to reduce the amount I throw away. Can I get my home to zero waste in 2017?
Fortunately, I live in San Francisco — a city that made its own commitment to be zero waste by 2020. Here, there are many services to support my effort. Since 2009, I’ve thrown my food scraps and cotton balls into the “green bin” for Recology, the City’s trash service, to compost. Recology also has a state-of-the-art recycling facility. I can throw plastic waste, aluminum foil, and paper products in one “blue bin” and they sort it for me.
Last year, San Francisco banned Styrofoam, which is hard to recycle. The city was also first in the United States to ban plastic bags. Restaurants must provide compostable or recyclable take-out containers. Grocery stores, like the city’s iconic Rainbow Grocery, offer countless bulk goods. Basically, there are numerous services and programs to make it easy for San Franciscans to avoid the dreaded “black bin” bound for the landfill.
But am I doing enough to avoid the black bin myself?
My little family of three throws a lot away: plastic wrap, diapers, yogurt squeezes, plastic food packaging, on and on and on. Most of the time, I toss without thinking — too rushed to meditate on my trash. But I’ve become more disturbingly aware of my family’s waste. We can’t protest fracking, fossil fuel companies and polluters if we buy into their system again and again.
I’m not going to pretend that buying out of this system will be easy either. If it was, more people would be doing it.
Let’s see how close I can make it together. Follow my efforts to reduce my refuse in Sustainablog’s series: Zero Waste Home:
Feature image by Thomas Hawk available on Flickr.