I just wanted to share an Op Ed piece that my local paper
ran last Sunday. The local paper is a powerful media opportunity that all of
us should be using as much as possible. So, if anyone wants to steal and edit
this piece and put your name on it, go for it.
Happy Interdependence Day!
By Eric Lombardi
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I am often asked these days how an aspiring locality can
become a Zero Waste Community. My answer is unequivocal and to the point: The
first step and immediate job at hand is to make the single mixed-waste trash
can obsolete as quickly as possible. That can begin to happen when people in
households and businesses sort their discards (i.e. trash) into three categories:
recyclables, compostables and "whatever's left." In July, the Boulder
City Council will consider the implementation of this three-bin system as other
progressive and environmentally-concerned communities such as San Francisco,
Toronto and Nova Scotia have done with great success. Like them, we need to
understand that our "waste stream" is actually resource rich. Then we
will reduce not only the amount of landfilling and associated methane gas, but
also reclaim resources to benefit the earth.
How important is "community composting" to our
overall environmental and economic goals? A new report called Stop Trashing the
Climate presents data and information which shows that rotting food waste and
other "biowaste" items in a landfill produce massive amounts of
GreenHouse Gas methane (CH4) and that as a result, landfills are the largest
source of anthropogenic methane in the world. Our best available technology
can't capture even half of that gas at a landfill. According to Rafe Pomerance,
the founder of the Climate Policy Center in D.C. (and yes, he is the brother of
our esteemed local social analyst Steve Pomerance), "Methane will have an
impact equal to carbon dioxide on global warming over the next 20 years."
The new report shows that a Zero Waste Society (where 90
percent of our discards are recovered by 2030 for recycling, reuse or
composting) will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to shutting down 21
percent of the coal-fired power plants in America! A recent study in California
showed that there are markets for 83 percent of the resources currently being
thrown into landfills. The bottom line, as stated in the Stop Trashing the
Climate report, is that pursuing a less wasteful society is one of the fastest,
cheapest and most effective strategies for protecting the climate.
We do a very good job as a community in our pursuit of
Zero Waste. We do need to accomplish more. Curbside collections of organic
resources is essential to decreasing the production of the greenhouse gas
methane and to increasing the production of rich soil amendments. The creation
of a local community composting industry could become a foundation cornerstone
for reviving our local farm soils and moving away from chemical food
Once we view our waste as actually being resources, we
can untangle ourselves from one aspect of living too large on our earth. We can
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save resources (oil, gas, metals, trees,
water, etc.) and produce new products from old that benefit us. It is another
step to creating a more sustainable lifestyle.
Our community and our elected leaders care about our
environment and lifestyle. We are fortunate to be committed trailblazers. Let's
take the next step--design new solutions to the concerns which have been
identified, and move forward on community composting. We need a three-bin
system that collects recyclables, compostables, and whatever's left. It is the
right thing to do.
Eric Lombardi is the Executive Director of Eco-Cycle, and
a co-author of the study mentioned in this article, which can www.stoptrashingtheclimate.org.