you'll find the following topics and resources on this page: 

  • Understanding our trash

  • Creating a low-waste mindset

  • How to Make Less Trash Guide and translations

  • 3 Ways to make less trash

  • Be Zero blog

  • Resources: recommended reading list, organizations and blogs, and sustainable and low waste stores


Understanding our trash


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Before the 1950's emerged, the idea of buying something with your hard earned money, using it once, tossing it, all to go out and rebuy again and again was considered a waste of money and time. Back then, if you bought something, it was designed to last, to be repaired or mended.

Disposables (and plastics) were introduced in the mid 1950's and were sold as a convenience product, a way to free-up our time, and a sneaky way for you to keep repurchasing an item from a company. They photo on the left is an actual article in the 1955 issue of Life Magazine.

 

Many of the solutions to prevent and reduce waste are methods humans used before disposables. They are not "new", they were a part of many indigenous cultures and people of color for generations.

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Our current infrastructure is linear. This means we design from the beginning with waste as an end product. There isn't a way to actually make zero trash right now, this is because everything we do is linked to an infrastructure that is linear. What we can do is create a mindset that helps to navigate us through our current disposable culture and eventually move to a zero waste (circular) infrastructure in the future. 

"The term zero waste was first used publicly in the name of a company, Zero Waste Systems Inc. (ZWS), which was founded by PhD chemist Paul Palmer in the mid-1970s in Oakland, California. The mission of ZWS was to find new homes for most of the chemicals being excessed by the nascent electronics industry. They soon expanded their services in many other directions." 

 

Thinking about how we design and how nutrients flow through a system....

(click on the quote below to learn more about this)

"A circular economy seeks to rebuild capital, whether this is financial, manufactured, human, social or natural. This ensures enhanced flows of goods and services. The system diagram illustrates the continuous flow of technical and biological materials through the ‘value circle’." 

Dive deeper into this concept by heading to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

At Be Zero, our focus is to educate and inspire individuals to understand waste, rethink waste, and help create better connections between ourselves and the world around us. We focus on relationship and conversation building within this topic - how do we collectively use and interact with the environment and our communities? 

Questions we should ask:

How do the materials we use get to us? 

What happens when we use these materials? 

How do the materials we consume effect people, communities, and shared resources? 

What can we learn from indigenous cultures when it comes to relationships to the planet?

 


Create a Low-Waste Mindset 


View my Tedx Talk:  

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we can't do everything, but we can do something. 

Let's grow more resilient and resourceful communities! We can dramatically reduce our individual trash and plastic footprint by rethinking our consumer choices, taking more ownership of the materials we bring into our lives, and supporting our local community. Check out a few of the simple steps you can take below!  


A practical guide that's been shared all around the world...

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View the How to Make Less Trash guide in the following languages:

German

Chinese

Portuguese

Spanish

Hindi 


Make Less Trash with these Easy three steps:

 

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Refuse + Bring Your Own

Refuse single-use disposables. This is anything you use just once and toss. From plastic-lined coffee and beverage cups, straws, plastic bags, and utensils.

  • Bring your own reusable and durable coffee/beverage cup! You can use a sturdy glass canning jar with a koozie for hot and cold beverages, thermos, or a regular an old pickle jar! Many coffee establishments will even offer you a discount for bringing your own cup too!

  • Bring your own reusable cloth bag for both groceries and produce. You can find many options here.

  • Refuse! Ask for no straw when you order your drinks at establishments (you may still get a straw, but at least you tried!).

  • Refuse freebies/giveaways.


 

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Get Thrifty & Resourceful

  • Rethink and simplify your consumer wants and needs. What really provides you value? What do you really use?

  • Share! Sharing communities are popping up all around the U.S. and the world. From transportation sharing to household tools and instruments. Check your local community for tool libraries, car and bike sharing programs!

  • Visit your local thrift stores for gently used household goods and clothing.

  • Learn to make simple household cleaners from inexpensive ingredients.  

  • Compost! No yard? No worry, start a worm compost! Learn more here and here.


 

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Take Ownership

Put value back into the things you own by taking ownership of your belongings.

  • Repair or mend your possessions before tossing and rebuying.

  • If an item is beyond repair, ask yourself if the item can be repurposed into another application (example: old t-shirts into reusables tissues).

  • Responsibly dispose or recycle items that are fully expired.

 


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 Be Zero Blog

Our blog is curated by our community members and features stories, interviews, advice, and community highlights. 


Resources: 

Book Recommendations List:

  • Sustainability: A History By Jeremy L. Caradonna

  • Recycling Reconsidered: The Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action in the United States Book by Samantha MacBride

  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things Book by Michael Braungart and William McDonough

  • The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance Paperback - Michael Braungart and William McDonough

  • EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want -By Frances Moore Lappé

  • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash Kindle Edition by Edward Humes

  • Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature - By Janine M. Benyus

  • Biomimicry in Organizations - Business management inspire by nature - By Fausto Tazzi, Clnzia De Rossi, Meaghan Toohey

  • Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States by Carl A. Zimring

  • The Global Business Environment: Challenges and Responsibilities 4th ed. 2017 Edition by Janet Morrison

  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

  • Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility by Dorceta Taylor

  • Faces of Environmental Racism: Confronting Issues of Global Justice (Studies in Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy) by Laura Westra and Bill Lawso

  • Design For Repair by Derrick Mead

  • The Waste Makers by Vance Packard, Bill McKibben

  • Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash Book by Elizabeth Royte

  • Waste and Want Book by Susan Strasser

  • Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal Book by Tristram Stuart

  • The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Book by Paul Connett

  • Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline




Stores