Archiv der Kategorie: category waste

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.

CARRIER OF HOPE 1 – Zero Waste in Chicago

Category: Garbage – Trash – Rubbish – Waste 

As mentioned at the beginning of 2016, I like to present different people, projects and ideas during this year. Projects, that inspire me. These stories are my personal reasons to hope, to hope for a better future, hope that our Mother Earth will stand a chance. As it is a personal view and thoroughly depending on my own resources, there is no guarantee of completeness.

My Motivation

In German we use often metamorphic language to express emotions, like a feeling that gets you right into your chest, or pins and needles in your fingers while dealing with a problem. Others experience upsetting situations that result in stomach-ache. What I’m talking about is my feeling of powerlessness while reading news, observing fellow human beings, or only by cycling to work. People’s behaviour can be frustrating to a point where you get so upset, that it overshadows your own thoughts. To overcome feelings like depression, aggression or fear I look for people who stand out. They step outside the comfort zone and start creating something new. They show the world, that there is a way to connect with the earth or to live a more environmental friendly life. These people give me strength. And I’m totally grateful for the spirit that enlightens them.

The upcoming posts will be categorised concerning different aspects of our daily life. I will add the categories as I go along. You’ll find this post also in German, if necessary :)

I like to begin with the Zero Waste Movement. In this text you will not find a portrait about well-known people like the lovely Lauren Singer in a single apartment or the inspiring Johnson’s family. I want to opt for more. The first story is one about a fast food Restaurant based in Chicago. Yes, correct. We are talking about one of the biggest rubbish contributors, the land with the greatest dreams. Especially here, you’ll find little shops that challenge Goliath.

I’m happy to present the chef and owner Justin Vrany and his Restaurant Sandwich Me In. Justin is not reaching for the Michelin Star (but who knows if he is not getting one anyway), but his goal is far greater, he is aiming for a 100% Zero Waste Restaurant.

All of the waste is composted or recycled. The raw vegetable and fruit compost are given to chickens to a farm nearby, in return the farm delivers the eggs. The electricity is generated from wind power and all of the used oil is recycled in bio-diesel engines. The interior and equipment are made of reused materials. He buys at local farms and uses mainly local products. Justin is preparing his meals with his own sauces, mustards and toppings, and even the beverages in his restaurant are „home-made“. In addition: You can compost or recycle all his take away materials. And you even get a vegan burger. I like that!

Justin estimates, he has lowered the restaurants carbon foot print by about 85% and he is still aiming for more. He will not stop until the Sandwich Me In is at 100%.

Watch the short video about the owner and chef, and learn the motivation behind his goals! inspiring!

If you need to know more about the restaurant click here.

(Clarification: I don’t know the owner personally, I’m sharing his story only to inspire others, not for personal gain of any kind.)


In the upcoming post we’ll aim for more. You don’t believe what’s possible if people really care about their waste.

Let me know if you like Justin’s approach, tell me if you think I am behind the times and you like to see something new instead. Even better, write me if you already had a chance to eat at Sandwich Me In. Justin, you’re also welcome to write ;)