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The Rochester Regional Group
Rochester, NY has a lot of outdoor events, especially in the summer. It’s one thing to make these events recycling events, where your guests feel good about their environmental footprint. It’s a step beyond to make your event Zero Waste. That means hundreds, maybe thousands, of folks come to your event and leave with little impact on our environment. Food, plates, silverware, packaging, wrappers, drinking cups, and all those tasty ingestibles and their accouterments we bring to bear on special occasions get sorted, recycled, or composted.
Properly speaking, zero waste is where you design products so that the end-of-pipe diversion gets transformed; it is a system designed with environmental health in mind from the very start-- "cradle to cradle." But until we reach that sustainable Holy Grail, we can design our consumption-intensive events as environmentally friendly as possible.
It takes a little more planning than the business-as-usual way of creating events, where you call up all sorts of vendors who bring stuff to your event and then hire a single trash hauler to take it away to who-knows-where. A Zero Waste event requires that you get everyone, especially the event planners and coordinators, on board with thinking environmentally. Without this vision thing, it won’t work. If the key players come to the table kicking and screaming about all the extra trouble this will make, it’ll be a dud. (In the future, if we’re lucky enough to have one after a couple of centuries of seriously trashing and warming* our planet, environmentally friendly events will be the norm.)
First off, to even approach zero waste, you’ll need to start planning early. You’ll need a recycling company, a waste company, a composing company, vendors with recyclable containers, lots of bins, lots of signs (to direct and educate the public), and lots of volunteers to help instruct your guests where to place waste properly. It sounds a bit much, but check out this guide from the great state of Connecticut: “An inside guide to event recycling.” Each region will be different depending on how dedicated businesses, government, and the public are to maintaining a healthy environment--and what the recycling market is like.
Some events in our Rochester region that have gone nearly Zero Waste are the annual Greentopia and Ganondagan Festivals. There are probably more. Presently, our Rochester Sierra Club’s Zero Waste Committee and a local enterprise dedicated to sustainability called Epiphergy are helping to make the Rochester Tour De Cure event on June 2nd a zero waste event. Zero Waste always looks good on your event.
I’m not going to rhapsodize much on the value of making your event as environmentally friendly as possible—except to say that much of our trash is toxic to our children, and improperly dealing with trash will make adapting and mitigating Climate Change more problematic. Not to mention, landfills are really, really bad for our environment:
“Landfills are the largest source of anthropogenic methane emissions in the U.S., and the impact of landfill emissions in the short term is grossly underestimated — methane is 72 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year time frame.” (Page 7, Stop Trashing the Climate)
Key to a healthy climate of zero waste events is a political and business environment that has the incentive and desire to help make our region’s events trash free. Without easy access to recycling services (i.e., hauling and sorting), it will be more difficult to orchestrate all the elements needed to make our events zero waste.
It’s also crucial that the local media keep a keen eye on how recycling is actually being accomplished. For example, The Investigative Post in the Buffalo region holds its leaders and institutions accountable for increasing the recycling rate: Housing authority ignores recycling mandate.
It’s easy at this point in time, where environmental concerns are thought to be external to our existence, to create events that throw all trash into a single stream and create the illusion that everything is being taken care of properly. More difficult is steering this great wasteful system of ours towards a more sustainable path, where environmental knowledge rules over political, business, and social convenience.
* As of this writing, the Carbon Dioxide on our atmosphere is passing 400 parts per million. “The speed at which Earth’s atmosphere has reached that density of carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas, has scientists alarmed.”(Earth's greenhouse gas levels approach 400-ppm milestone (May 1, 2013) LA Times)
Please consider signing up to our group and joining in our efforts by entering your e-mail in the Google Groups box below. We discuss, story files, information and resources on our how best to recycle in the Rochester area.
|Subscribe to Rochester Sierra Club Zero Waste|
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From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
Zero Waste Committee Main Page Sierra Club Welcome to the new recycling movement for the 21st Century and to the work of the new Zero Waste Committee! Zero Waste is a design principle for the 21st century; Producer Responsibility Recycling is the means for achieving a deep transformation of wasteful production and consumption. We aim to lead the transition from traditional end-of-pipe waste "diversion" programs provided by local governments to "cradle to cradle" recycling systems designed, financed, and managed by producers, in order to drive improvements in product design, stimulate local economies and reduce climate change impacts of transportation- and energy-intensive product chains. Phasing out landfilling and incinerating discarded resources is prerequisite to Zero Waste; hence the committee also coordinates Club work on waste disposal issues.
The Sierra Club's policy for reducing waste is based on Zero Waste.
RochesterEnvironment.com's Recycle page: Recycling Rochester | Recycle everything | Rochester news | RochesterEnvironment.com
Our Zero Waste (Or Pretty Darn Close) program with Chris Burger on November 6th, 2008.
Earth Resource Foundation (ERF) Founded in 1999, Earth Resource Foundation (ERF) is an environmental educational non-profit organization developed to empower the general public with the resources needed to make environmentally sustainable choices and changes.
New Yorkers for Zero Waste Platform 2010 "The N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has prepared a new State Solid Waste Plan that finally recognizes that materials in our waste stream are valuable and need to be preserved. We strongly endorse its preference for waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting over disposal. The less waste we dispose of the more environmental, economic and social benefits that we will enjoy. Unfortunately millions of tons of garbage are still being wasted by being sent for disposal in landfills or incinerators. The DEC estimates New York’s recycling rate to be only 20%, far short of the 50% reduction and recycling goal to be met by 1997 under the State Solid Waste Management Act of 1988. A large portion of waste headed for disposal is recyclable (50%) or compostable (30%) material that could be processed by other means into new products. "
Environmental Services | Monroe County, NY "Recycling in Monroe County—The “Blue Box” Program The following containers, paper materials and license plates (defaced) should be placed in your recycling box and taken to the curb before 6:30 a.m. on your regular trash collection day. Click here to download a recycling guide."
What is the relationship between trash and Climate Change? Or, why do we need to recycle? What is the concept of Zero Waste and why should we strive towards it? This is all explained in a wonderfully clear document “Stop Trashing the Climate.” Check this out: Stop Trashing the Climate "Stop Trashing the Climate provides compelling evidence that preventing waste and expanding reuse, recycling, and composting programs — that is, aiming for zero waste — is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies available for combating climate change. This report documents the link between climate change and unsustainable patterns of consumption and wasting, dispels myths about the climate benefits of landfill gas recovery and waste incineration, outlines policies needed to effect change, and offers a roadmap for how to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within a short period. "
Got Zero Waste questions concerning Sierra Club policy, action, or about our committee? Contact FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com |
Interested in volunteering for some specific projects? Check our Volunteer Opportunities.
Before you start planning your event, please read this short note from the great state of Connecticut: “An inside guide to event recycling.”
Come to one of our meetings (see above) and talk with us. We've got a lot of experience about event recycling and local businesses who will help you.
Contact us if you need volunteers (which you will) to help folks separate their garbage so it gets recycled properly. Signage is not enough, Volunteers are critical to make your green event workable and stay within budget.
We are working on an online survey to find out how interested those planning and attending outside events in the Rochester region are about making their events nearly zero waste.
We are compiling materials, some online like signage for your containers, for recycling food, papers, recyclables, local groups can do their own event recycling with a little help from us.
Thinking: Should we move towards gentle persuasion (just providing materials and volunteers for events) or go for something more aggressive, like the The Zero Waste Event Program that was created to encourage waste prevention and reduction, recycling, and composting at events held in the City of San Josť.
We are working on compiling a pamphlet for making your Rochester-area event nearly zero waste with help from other regions that have successful programs.
Event Survey Please take our Sierra Club Zero Waste Event/Recycling Survey. Only a few questions. Easy-peasy! Please note that we are not collecting names; it’s totally anonymous and when you hit ‘submit’ and then ‘see previous responses’ you get a nice graphic display of the answers. I know, this is totally unscientific but it also provides a text area for comments. This is just a way to get some general feedback about how folks feel about event recycling hopefully get folks thinking. Please post this survey far and wide so we can get as many responses as possible.
Zero Waste is a design principle for the 21st century; Producer Responsibility Recycling is the means for achieving a deep transformation of wasteful production and consumption.
We aim to lead the transition from traditional end-of-pipe waste "diversion" programs provided by local governments to "cradle to cradle" recycling systems designed, financed, and managed by producers, in order to drive improvements in product design, stimulate local economies and reduce climate change impacts of transportation- and energy-intensive product chains.
Phasing out land-filling and incinerating discarded resources is prerequisite to Zero Waste; hence the committee also coordinates Club work on waste disposal issues. The Sierra Club's policy for reducing waste is based on Zero Waste
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Earth911.com - Find Recycling Centers and Learn How To Recycle In our recycling database, we can help you find over 100,000 recycling locations across the country. With information provided by local governments, industry insiders, organizations and everyday consumers, you can recycle hundreds of products from packing peanuts to computers. We know where you need to go to get things done. We also continue to maintain our bilingual hot line, 1-800-CLEANUP.