Refuse – Reduce – Reuse – Recycle* – Rot
This means: don’t take what you don’t need, reduce the amount of stuff you consume (including natural resources such as water and fuel), use what you have, and avoid the landfill when disposing of your non-reusable items (by either recycling* or composting them).
*There is some disagreement about whether recycling is truly zero waste. It will be included as such for the purposes of this website.
There are many benefits of zero waste that we as a society at large are beginning to realize. As individuals, we at least experience the financial and spiritual benefit of being strapped to less stuff. When we choose to purchase things made with less packaging, we spend less money (particularly at the grocery store or farmers market by buying fresh and in bulk). When we think before we buy a piece of clothing or a toy that we aren’t sure is made of quality materials or will actually serve our needs, we save money and save ourselves the effort and frustration of later throwing it away.
Zero waste does not mean people go out of business. Zero waste actually brings the opportunity for economic growth, as can be seen in cost-savings of companies who choose to implement lean waste principles. Reducing consumption anywhere means savings, and businesses large and small realize those savings AND pass them on to their customers. Implementing zero waste as a company can actually give it an edge over its competitors because it can offer lower prices. Further, zero waste does not mean landfills are going out of business. Many landfills have chosen to operate recycling centers and methane gas collection units to maximize the earning potential of the waste business. Bottom line: zero waste means more opportunity for us all.