CARRIER OF HOPE 2 – Examples of Zero Waste

Category: Waste

After the last post in this category, we are now travelling from Chicago to Kamikatsu. But not only Japan ist ready for a change, also San Francisco is in the game.

No. 1  Kamikatsu, Japan

A town with one goal: Zero Waste Town!

The 2,000 inhabitants have to sort their waste into 34 different categories. Imagine that in your home! What would your family say to this? Extreme recycling! The citizens not only have to separate the rubbish, they also have to wash the waste, that is presumed to be cheaper and more sustainable than purchasing an incinerator. The citizen are obliged to compost the biodegradable waste at home. One by-effect is the decreasing amount of wasted food. Every family hast to bring the rubbish, sorted and washed to the city recycling centre. This is a rigorous answer to the ever-increasing amount of waste and the exploding landfills.

Watch the short documentary:

No. 2  San Francisco, USA

Is this possible, a Zero Waste City?

Again we are in the United States, this time in the fourth biggest city in California with an estimated population of 850,000. San Francisco is the cultural, commercial, and financial centre of Northern California, and is reaching for the goal to become a Zero Waste City. The new recycling program started 2009.

The system works similar to other countries such as Germany: The more waste you produce the more you pay. You have a green container for compost, a blue container for recyclables and a black waste container. Everything in the black container ends in the landfill, that is also the reason why the city will charge you more for this container. In each container is a micro ship. The waste collection will register, if you use the service. Easy: no waste to collect, no fee to pay. One smart move was to ban plastic bags in the city. The key concept is to reduced a huge amount of waste from ending up in the landfill. As Major Lee proclaims: The city is supposed to have a recycling ratio of 80%, in contrast to an estimated 35% in other american cities. 

You find  many different clips, here you see one that is giving a good overview:

Naturally you may ask: „Why is this necessary? Wouldn’t it be better to stop producing waste in the first place?“ I would say Yes. Even if many people tell this would be nonsense – because the system needs consumerism to survive, and rubbish is just one little by-product. The real „Zero Waste“ approach is in my opinion the fact that you don’t produce any waste at all. Nonetheless we have to start somewhere, and not all of us are able to live a self-sufficient life in the country side. We want to manage our work, home and family and still do as much for the environment as possible. Every person and every day matters!

Everyone of us plays her or his little part. Every big idea or improvement started as a thought or a small initiative. Let’s not doubt before we take the first step!

As for sure you always have more than one side. That’s the reason I will mention some further thoughts: Quentin Kopp for example is one of the critics, he doubts the 80% recycling. Furthermore San Francisco has a problem with black market and rubbish thievery. A disturbing fact is that most of the recycling material is shipped to Asia to produce more articles that we’re supposed to be in need of. Seeing that 40% of the population of Kamikatsu are not happy with the rigid recycling policy, is a hint of the obstacles we are facing. Where are the limits of strict regulations like that?

In Germany people are already in doubt, that recycling in general is done correctly, in other words many people mistrust the recycling system. And if you count all the waste incineration plants we’d built one maybe think twice if one walks to the next recycling bin. Even if we already have to import millions of tons of waste from all over the world to fuel the thirst of our incineration plants, there are still more under construction. One day waste might be more than the sum of its pieces.

My personal conclusion: Consume less, live more, de-clutter your life, live healthier, act in behalf of your loved ones! Or what is your solution? Let me know!

Next time we will explore ways to live a different lifestyle without regret.


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