Letter: Beyond solid waste

Published: 8/9/2018 12:00:50 AM

I recently read about the challenges of single-stream recycling (Monitor front page, Aug. 1). As the student leader of sustainability at my high school, I have been learning about the growing Zero Waste Movement made popular by social media influencers who try to drastically reduce their environmental footprint. The lifestyle appeals to me, but in practice it can be expensive, time-consuming and anxiety-provoking.

The Zero Waste Movement’s purpose was originally to redesign the supply chain so that no solid waste went to landfills, but there are significant challenges with this lifestyle. Hand-making everything from toothpaste to house cleaners takes time, money and expertise. And individuals do not necessarily have access to bulk food stores or composting.

I am not suggesting that we abandon our efforts to reduce solid waste through recycling and other means, but there are many other problems that are overlooked when we focus primarily on reducing solid waste. For example, companies dispose of tons of hazardous chemical waste that pollute waterways and damage the atmosphere. And the global demand for water will double in only 20 years, twice as fast as population growth.

From Starbucks’ ban of single-use straws to the renewable energy initiative here in Concord, I think it is possible to prompt better choices that ripple out from our community to global corporations, beyond a preoccupation with solid waste.



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