The ZeroTrash Principle
What does ZeroTrash mean?
ZeroTrash is a goal.
A product has achieved the ZeroTrash goal when nothing from it must ultimately end up in the trash. Every component of it either (1) gets consumed, (2) goes into material recylcing or (3) is compostable. And nothing needs to be burned or otherwise destroyed.
Take a soda can as an example. The contents are consumed and everything else can go straight into aluminum recycling. The cardboard container can go into paper recycling. Such a product satisfies the ZeroTrash goal.
At home, I have a 20-year-old television that is about to die. On February 18th next, it will be largely useless anyway because the signal it receives will cease and a new, high definition signal will takes its place. So what happens to the TV?
There are so many different components and materials in the TV that it could never reach ZeroTrash. It will most likely end up in a landfill, along with the tens of thousands of other TVs that will be replaced in February. There's probably some mercury and other nasty things in there too. Who knows! There were very poor environmental standards in 1988 when it was manufactured.
ZeroTrash is a Principle of Manufacturing
When a company designs a new product, they can do so by selecting only those components that will fit into one of the three categories:
Electronics present a particular challenge simply because they tend to require sophisticated components to work. Still, the objective is to get as close as possible to having no trash left over. Better 10% trash than 100% trash.
ZeroTrash is a Frame of Mind
In most cities these days, there are laws about cleaning up after your pet. If your dog does a little number on the sidewalk or in the park, you are expected to clean up after him. It's sometimes affectionately called the Poop Scoop Law.
We are also expected to not litter. There are strong laws about littering; you drop an empty potato chip packet on the ground and -- if you are caught in the act -- you will likely get fined.
So why is it any different when it comes to the planet? When a family unit does a little number -- dumps a broken TV set into a landfill -- isn't it just like the dog's little number in the public park? Isn't our planet a kind of public park?
At GreenBook, we believe that once people are introduced to the notion of ZeroTrash, it's far more likely they will make better decisions for our planet and our future generations.