What is zero waste?
Zero waste is a way of keeping resources circulating that have already been extracted from the earth and made into products. It is about designing more resilient and durable products that can be repaired if they break and that last a lifetime, or longer. Zero waste is paramount in reducing carbon outputs from manufacturing new virgin products because it aims at reusing, reducing and recovering existing materials.
"In order to get to zero waste we have to rethink every part of the supply chain, from production to consumption to disposal. We need to focus on systemic changes that result in more durable products, reuse, refillable and repair opportunities, and utilization of compostable products where appropriate."
- Resource Recycling Newsletter
Why is zero waste important?
Zero waste has always been a sustainable model for reducing stress on resources and fostering relationships through sharing and repurposing. Zero waste is growing in importance with the increase to climate change concerns. A shift in the way we use and dispose of virgin resources is of paramount priority. Zero waste shifts in both business and households is guaranteed to reduce negative carbon impacts, encourage healthier living both in food purchasing habits and in toxic product consumption. Zero waste presents the opportunity for a circular economic shift and a movement of stewardship and smart living.
What is the difference between zero waste and recycling?
Zero waste is a full systemic change that eliminates the allowance of single use disposable items. Recycling is a way of managing single use disposable items such as water bottles which still allows for a society to create products out of virgin materials which are used for a short period of time and then discarded. While recycling is better than landfilling because it gives some resources another opportunity to become products, it still is not the best and highest use of materials.
Recently, China, one of the biggest buyers of American recycling put extreme standards on the quality of materials entering their ports which has caused a great deal of material to be returned back to the US due to contamination issues. Most of the materials that leave households in the form of "recycling" aren't actually being recycled.
Zero waste reduces the reliance on a variable recycling markets and overseas regulation, and empowers households and communities to use materials wisely and to share tools amongst themselves.
Why would I hire you vs. an event planner?
HumanEco typically works with event planners to provide sustainability expertise and management to overall event operations. If you are not using an event planner but would like to have a sustainable zero waste event, we can still work with you to make that happen. However, we don't do full service event management.
HumanEco is an expert that specializes in waste reduction strategy and implementation with a cost point in mind. We will work with you and your team to ensure sustainability goals are met and reported and that your guests are inspired and impressed with attention to detail and the story of stewardship being told.
If my site already has trash bins, isn't that enough?
Even if the facility you are hosting your event at has waste receptacles there is still room for error and contamination. Most bins aren't properly labeled or signed and if they are, often times what is on the signs doesn't represent what the attendees are discarding. HumanEco will provide education at each waste station either in the form of personalized signage and or a waste expert to assist in proper sorting and engagement with attendees. HumanEco also has a line of visually appealing waste stations that tell a story through the use of art and visual aids to educate people. Examples of those stations can be seen on the Portfolio page of this site.
Can't I just rent dish ware from a party rental place?
You could, yes. However, then you are responsible for picking up those dishes, hauling the dishes to the kitchen, washing them and returning them back to the dish rental place. Instead, HumanEco can do the dirty work for you all the while ensuring that all food scraps are captured for composting and that the dish ware being used is all second hand salvaged dish ware donated by our sponsor Goodwill. Which, if you're aiming to tell a story with your event this is the way to go! A full story of reuse that engages your attendees and inspires them. If you aren't into the eclectic salvaged look, HumanEco can provide standard white service ware as well as wedding and high end decor.
Why is using durable dishes important if I am recycling and composting the plates and cups being used?
Durable dishes are the impetus of true zero waste. If you are using single use throwaway items no matter if they are compostable or recyclable, there is still an abundance of unnecessary energy and resource use throughout the lifecycle. Recyclable and compostable items have to be produced, discarded, transported, remanufactured, transported again and disposed causing high levels of carbon pollution and negative climate impacts. *I will note however, that recycling and composting are still superior to just throwing everything in a landfill. The lifecycle of durable dish ware is minimal in comparison and while they may take more resource consumption initially to create, the amount they are used before end of life outweighs recycling or composting single use items continuously.