Waste is not real. Yes, you read that correctly—the concept of waste is a figment of humanity’s collective imagination, an illusory label to classify any “useless” leftover byproduct.
The truth is, nature does not produce waste for the same reason it does not produce a landfill. At the end of its life cycle, every natural organism breaks down into basic components that are recycled into the building blocks for new life, and no material is ever wasted.
Pretty efficient, huh? While nature has already had several billions of years to refine this system through evolutionary trial and error, we humans are just beginning to do so, and we have a lot of catching up to do.
Why does it matter that we eliminate the idea of waste? With a global climate crisis looming, altering our culturally ingrained habits and practices is to our advantage. After all, we know that nature can endure and bounce back from environmental changes, but the question is whether or not we will be around to witness this recovery. Fundamental shifts must take place to reengineer our current economic system and redefine our relationship to the products we make, consume, and dispose of.
We have now arrived at the next phase in mapping the green transition: the circular economy. Throughout modern history, linear economies have prevailed. In a linear economy, resources are extracted from the environment and made into products, consumed, and disposed of. This is also referred to as the “take, make, waste” model. Contrast this with the circular economic model in which we no longer extract natural resources faster than they can replenish. In a circular economy, the resources are produced internally from a supply of materials that have already been circulated, which then become new products that are used, reused, and repaired before being reintroduced back into the cycle as raw materials, just as nature does it!
This is why recycling technologies are going to see a massive transformation in the coming decades as we move to close the loop on the linear economies of the world. TerraCycle Fairfield is doing its part by collecting everything from old printers and toothbrushes and breaking them down into materials for reuse, such as backpacks, umbrellas, and even playgrounds. Through a partnership with TerraCycle, Inc., Fairfield has taken the step to become a community centered around zero-waste living. To accomplish this, TerraCycle Fairfield is inviting local businesses and organizations to move toward a more circular model for their operations.
Recognizing that cultural shifts require education and accessibility, TerraCycle Fairfield has launched a door-door collection program that will allow citizens to engage in TerraCycling at no cost from the comfort of their own homes. TerraCycle Fairfield hopes that the new service will help individuals embrace a zero-waste lifestyle and increase awareness about consumption and disposal habits.
The initiative is headed up by TerraCycle Fairfield’s Amiritha Kumar, who coordinates with student volunteers through the Rotary-sponsored Fairfield Interact Club. If you live in Fairfield and would like to sign up for the free TerraCycle collection, you can contact Amiritha at TerraCycleTown@gmail.com.
Simple paradigm shifts like these will ultimately culminate in far-reaching change. Let’s make zero-waste a habit, a lifestyle, and even a mantra to live by, and maybe one day the notion of a landfill will be as nonsensical to us as the earth being flat.
To partner with TerraCycle Fairfield contact TerraCycleTown@gmail.com. To donate to the TerraCycle Fairfield initiative, go to SustainableLivingCoalition.org.