Ambitious and forward-looking entrepreneurs around the world are proving us that zero waste is indeed an achievable ambition.
These entrepreneurs are the ones who realize that we can’t keep going as we do producing tons of food waste and recycling a bare 3% of it! They are the ones who know that if an average person produces 475 pounds of food waste per year that means 70 Million tons worldwide. They are the ones who realize this is not only toxic for the environment but also very costly (handing and disposing of all this waste is extremely expensive). And most importantly, they are the ones who started the “zero waste” crusade to find solutions in their respective industries. A crusade based on the simple belief that all discarded materials is designed to become resources for others to use.
Here are a couple of promising examples of how they’ve challenged our way of thinking, proving that we can do things differently.
If you’ve ever been annoyed with the shitty packaging of the food you buy then you’ll love the idea of a package-free grocery store. And that’s now possible. In fact, a number of supermarkets are taking on the fight against packaging madness.
Original Unverpacks (in Berlin) was one of the firsts zero waste grocery store to open. The concept is simple: they sell products directly from refillable containers, so their stores create zero waste and their customers can buy exactly as much as they need which means less waste at home.
In the same vein, I’ve also heard of Day by Day a small grocery chain with 5 locations in France and I am sure many others have followed suit around the world.
The restaurant industry is one of the worst when it comes to waste. But here again, smart chefs are challenging the norm and finding creative solutions to prevent waste.
It’s the case with Silo (in Brighton UK), a restaurant designed with the bin in mind. At Silo, waste has been eliminated by dealing directly with farmers, by using re-usable delivery vessels and by installing a giant compost machine that turns all the scraps into compost that’s distributed to local growers to produce more food.
The goal for Silo is to do everything themselves even if that means they have to offer a simple menu with 6 items to choose from everyday. The owner actually says: “Choice is something which is wrong with the food industry. The places with more choice create more waste and have lower standards, that’s an absolute fact.” D. McMaster.
Douglas says his way of producing, sourcing, and respecting food is like we did 100 years ago; he likes to refer to his approach as a Pre-industrial Food System.
Then of course, there are bigger initiatives to solve the problem. San Francisco for example is leading the charge by trying to become the first zero waste city in the world. The aim is to completely eliminate the trash it sends to landfills by 2020.
To make it happen, they have displayed great political determination, backed by a raft of legislation. Its latest move is to ban the sale or distribution of small plastic bottles of water on public property. Just an example amidst all the initiatives the city has put in place to reach its goal. By involving the public in its recycling crusade, San Francisco city is currently reusing or composting 80% of its garbage! Not sure they’ll reach the 100% mark by 2020 but they are for sure giving other cities around the word a lesson.
I don’t know if we can really hope to eliminate all garbage from our lives but I sure do hope to see more “zero-waste” success stories in the near future.