Working toward Zero Waste

Equinox Zero waste staion
Blocking that garbage can like a hockey goalie blocking the net!
From Wikipedia,
 The internationally recognized definition of ZERO WASTE adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is:

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.”


The goal for the Zero Waste stations for Green Events is to recycle everything that is recyclable and compost everything that is compostable, and then send as little waste as possible to the landfill. We measure this by weight, and the six events I’ve worked we have had a 95% or better diversion rate. This means that only 5% of the waste generated at the event, by weight, goes to the landfill. The rest goes to be recycled or composted.

Vendors in this town are pretty good about buying the most eco-friendly products (utensils, cups) they can. Before the event I go around to the vendors and figure what can be recycled and composted. So besides figuring what waste goes where for the waste stations, I sometimes do this at their counters..compost me

Fortunately, most paper products can be composted, including waxy cups and paper plates with food. Paper is a natural carbon source so it actually helps balance out the nitrogen source from food, like adding dead leaves.

Although the fork in the photo is made of plastic, many vendors are getting utensils made from corn, which can be composted. You can tell if a utensil is made from corn if it bends and doesn’t brake, and typically it won’t be white, but beige. Plastic utensils break when you bend them.


20150920_101946My favorite part of working these events, besides satisfying my neurosis of conservation, is the way people react to my neurotic behavior. I really do block the garbage can with cardboard and eyeball everything being thrown out. I’ll make people wait in line so that I can make sure everything goes in the correct bin. And most people appreciate it. I get many people telling me “Thank you for doing this”, or they will pull their kids aside to watch me be OCD over trash.

So the international definition tells us that the concept ‘Zero Waste’ is not literal, but a goal, to guide us toward Zero Waste.

For bringing the Zero Waste concept home, besides recycling, I think a home compost system is key. Even if you don’t garden, you you can still use your finished compost to fertilize your lawn, trees, shrubs and flowers, while you avoid throwing food into the landfill. See.. A Home Compost System is the Backbone to a good Garden!




Hi, I’m Rob.


I feel that we consume too much, especially oil, and don’t realize the global effects. I think it is part of our culture, but we were tricked into it. And it does not have to be this way. It was not going to be this way. I think we have to turn it around, and we can. The solutions exist. For example, a 30 lb. bicycle can do so many things that a 4000 lb. car can do for the average commuter. But the big oil and auto industries have been telling us that we need a chainsaw to cut butter.

Bikes were here and used before cars. The first roads were built for bicycles. Bikes are now being used and celebrated more and more. There are commuter bikes in Ford truck and McDonald’s commercials, among others. Cities across the country are investing billions of dollars in real, effective bicycle infrastructure and programs.

I truly appreciate the bicycle and reel mower as efficient and effective human powered machines.  So using both to promote consuming less oil is easy for me. I’ve spent so much time on the bike seat thinking about this stuff, that I need to start this blog.

Hopefully it will stay solution-based, from experience, and a way to share ideas. Part of the solution though is facing the facts, and I will try to address the issues I know and am passionate about. But I will also try to bring up the positive ideas to an issue, but welcome more knowledgeable, productive input.

I live a relatively low-impact lifestyle for an American, so I want to share my view and what works for me, and others I know.

Thanks for visiting my blog!