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Living Green

Last week there was an event where vendors and service providers get together to brag about how green their products and processes are. As the recycler and a sponsor for the event we had our first post-event meeting today I fell in love our mission all over again - realizing how radical it is.

Over and over we keep saying how we can prevent waste - it isn't inevitable. This challenges our current society to the core. Could you go a day without throwing something away? Try it? Our consumption is all container based. Even if I eat organic and buy locally the chances are I have a yogurt tub, a butter wrapper, a toilet paper roll, a price sticker, piece of gum, candy wrapper... the list of throw-aways goes on but I am not trying to convince you to live off of bulk products and home cooked food. I am just pointing out how difficult it is to go through an entire day with out throwing something away, in the garbage, and how most people don't find this odd or strange. We don't throw away money but isn't throwing away containers and other items that cost time, energy, and cash to make the same thing?

So at the "green" event we were trying to at least go without making waste for two days - sort of like a fast. It sounds easy enough but we couldn't do it. Despite the preparation, helping vendors secure recyclable and compostable supplies, speaking to all the contributors to the contributors of the event we still ended up throwing out around four-percent of our waste (the other ninety-six percent was recyclable). Four percent may not seem like a lot but when I looked at all three hundred pounds in the dumpster I couldn't help but think 'maybe next year', with a sigh.

However, after the meeting I wasn't depressed - I was inspired - because I realized that zero waste for this one event isn't the goal, it is just one step. By making this event a zero waste (or as close as we can possibly get), by putting those hundred or so venders on a no-garbage fast for two days, we are making at least a few people realize how inherent, yet unnecessary, garbage is in our society. Yeah, there were three hundred pounds of garbage at the end of the day, but there were also several dozen vendors and over ten thousand people who for two days were able to recycle ninety-six percent of the waste. These people were able to speak with several very enthusiastic passionate waste-reduction geeks about where recycling is now, where it is going, and what are the alternatives. The goal is to share our mission with interested participants. I can't speak for everyone else but they sure got this participant.

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