Zero Waste

The average American throws out 550 pounds of paper, 318 pounds of food, and 90 pounds of glass per year? About 80 percent of that garbage ends up in landfills. Inspired to do better, those living a sustainable lifestyle are striving to live a zero waste lifestyle as well.

Zero waste is a concept aimed at eliminating waste and redefining the way in which we manage and use our resources. zero waste looks at developing and creating products that would use fewer materials and could be easily reused and recycled back into nature or the market place.

Impacts of Waste

Disposing of waste has huge environmental impacts and can cause serious problems. Some waste will eventually rot, but not all, and in the process it may smell or generate methane gas, which is explosive and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Leachate produced as waste decomposes may cause pollution. Badly-managed landfill sites may attract vermin or cause litter.

Incinerating waste also causes problems, because plastics tend to produce toxic substances, such as dioxins, when they are burnt. Gases from incineration may cause air pollution and contribute to acid rain, while the ash from incinerators may contain heavy metals and other toxins.

Tips for Zero Waste Living

  • Don’t buy things you don’t need.
  • Avoid disposable products, designed to be thrown away.
  • Don’t buy over packaged goods.
  • Buy things that are well made and will last.
  • Buy things in returnable containers – and return the containers once empty.
  • Concentrated products give you more active ingredient but make sure you do not use too much – follow the instructions.
  • Buying in bulk, if you have the money and storage space and need the goods, reduces the amount of packaging.
  • Taking your own shopping bag means you don’t need to use plastic carrier bags.
  • For some products refill packs can be bought, which use less packaging.
  • Jam-jars and bottles can be used for storing all manner of things – but make sure they are properly labeled.
  • Plastic carrier bags can be reused several times as shopping bags, can be used to take items to be reused/recycled, and can be used as bin liners.
  • Old clothes, books, toys, unwanted gifts and household goods are easy to reuse: give them to a charity shop.
  • Envelopes can be reused with a reuse label (plain or printed) or can be used as scrap paper.

Local Household and Commercial Recycling Programs

What you need to know:

Recycling Requirements for Apartments (PDF)

Businesses Recycling (PDF)

South Tahoe Refuse (PDF)