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What are Zero Waste Communities and How Can You Create One Where You Live?

The concept of zero waste suggests that there are realistic ways to streamline how materials move through our world. However, building an ecological future in a zero waste community is bigger than a single idea. It’s more than just changing individual behaviors, and it’s greater than just a few people deciding to compost or recycle. Becoming a zero waste community means altering our lifestyles and adjusting how we create, consume and dispose of our society’s boundless amounts stuff. The zero waste lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but we all benefit when we create less trash and cut back on waste.

So now that we know what a zero waste community is, how do you foster one? Here are six ideas for starting a zero waste community where you live.

Be passionate.

Establish why you are doing this and make sure it’s something you can realistically stick with. Get specific with your “why” so you can remind yourself of it on a daily basis – not only to keep yourself motivated, but others around you as well. If you are passionate and educated about zero waste and its importance to our world, then you can educate and inspire the people in your community to take a stand with you. Remember you are trying to make an impact on a larger scale, so the more people you can spread the zero waste message to, the better!

Host a workshop.

Have you fully immersed yourself in the world of zero waste? Are you completely educated, motivated and passionate? If feel you’ve become a master at the basics, it’s time to host a zero waste workshop in your community. Look for a good venue, search for a local business with the same values that would be interested in co-hosting, choose an interesting topic (people love anything DIY), and make sure you’re prepared.

Reach out to local businesses.

Is there a restaurant you avoid because it uses plastic straws or Styrofoam containers? Maybe your dentist office uses countless amounts of paper for patient forms or mailings? It’s time to reach out and educate them about zero waste. Start by sending an email. Keep your communication as short and to the point as possible, and include potential solutions. Be sure to keep your letter positive and friendly.

Create a community garden.

Community gardens are springing up all over the place, from urban farms to neighborhood plots. They are exactly what the name implies: a piece of land gardened by a community. A community garden can educate people about the importance and value of food, not to mention beautify your community and create a strong bond within your neighborhood. While this will be no easy task, the return on your investment is worth it. If you want to create a garden in your community, start by measuring interest, holding a meeting, and researching potential land options. Find out what will grow well in your community with the amount of rainfall it gets and the type of soil it offers.

Organize a neighborhood cleanup.

Organizing a neighborhood cleanup is a great way to promote the zero waste lifestyle while also making your neighborhood a better place to live. However, for a community cleanup to be successful, it must be well-planned. From picking the right project to recruiting enough volunteers, putting together an effective event takes effort. But don’t be intimated by this; nothing with zero waste is simple, but it is always worth it.  Start by choosing the area of focus for your neighborhood cleanup carefully. The right project is one that fixes a current problem and inspires others to get involved. Some community cleanup project ideas are trash collection, flower planting, beach cleanup, and beautification projects.

Volunteer to host a food drive.

Food waste is a huge issue. Volunteering at a local food pantry or soup kitchen will make a positive difference. It’s a great way to give back to your community, and also take small steps towards eliminating food waste.

Through community-driven zero waste actions, we can directly and positively impact our environment. Once you’ve got a zero waste group going that you’re proud of, you can utilize it to promote a lot of quality change in your community. Together you can organize events, get a booth at a festival, or get political and ask your local government to make a change. The possibilities are limitless!

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