I apologize for the absence lately; this has been quite the busy season for Adventures in Nourishment.
I am honored and excited to share this year's partnership with Sedona Yoga Festival, where Jo will be acting as Zero Waste Coordinator.
Rest assured, I've been doing a lot of writing, still -- here's a blog post I wrote for SYF; you can check it out to learn more about this wonderful event, and the meaning behind the Zero Waste movement...
2019: A YEAR WITHOUT WASTE
As our year moves ever-onward, many of us carry with us our resolutions and goals to make this the best year yet. We at Sedona Yoga Festival are excited to share one of our many intentions for making this the best-ever SYF.
As Yogis, we are always seeking opportunities to live more intentionally, and to create a more balanced, peaceful and joyful existence for all. One important and effective strategy for doing so is by pledging to be a Zero Waste event.
In the coming weeks, we will share more information about what this means for us as a festival, and for you as an attendee, but we thought we’d start with the basics — In a world full of information at our fingertips, it can be easy to get lost or overwhelmed, so the following is intended to help you join us on our journey toward Zero Waste ::
WHAT IS ZERO WASTE?
The following definition comes from the Zero Waste International Alliance, which offers great information and resources,
“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.”
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.
Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”
That’s a lengthy definition, I know, so what does that mean for us?
WHY IS ZERO WASTE IMPORTANT?
For most of us, it’s simple to understand that creating less waste is a good thing. But really understanding how much waste we currently produce — and the implications — can be difficult. In most cases, waste has been designed to be out of sight, out of mind.
For anyone interested in learning more (in a short, highly effective, informative and entertaining format), I recommend checking out the videos and online resources at The Story of Stuff Project, particularly watching the documentary that started it all, The Story of Stuff.
BABY STEPS TO ZERO WASTE
Most of us recall the old adage, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” — and most of us know that recycling is important, but it’s more difficult to truly understand the time, energy and resources embedded in production and in the process of recycling. This is why ‘Recycle’ is the last of “five r’s” — and the final step in the Zero Waste model.
While consumers have much less power over producing waste and creating a Zero Waste society ultimately falls on producers, manufacturers, and lawmakers, each of us can take small steps to eliminate waste from our life by looking at our choices.
The most important (and initially most difficult) of the 5 R’s of Zero Waste is refusal.
We are bombarded on a daily basis with stuff! Mindfully choosing to accept what we actually need and refusing the unnecessary is the first step in breaking out of the cycle of waste. Refuse wasteful materials like styrofoam and single use plastics, and choose to support companies who are striving to make it easier for their customers to live a Zero Waste lifestyle – you’ll feel better; trust me!
This is a lot like Refuse, except that it takes into account the fact that it’s nearly impossible to live in our current society without buying things from time to time (if you’ve got that figured out, please tell me all your secrets and super powers!).
We’re constantly being sold cheaply made items designed to wear out — and this is marketed as convenient. Our planet and our wallets disagree, however.
We have the power to save money AND our planet by making mindful decisions to buy items that are long-lasting, ethically produced, and free from unnecessary packaging. Sometimes, it’s possible or better to borrow, rent or purchase used. In addition to reducing waste, we can reduce the clutter in our lives — a real win-win.
Not to sound like a broken record, but Reusing is all about Mindfulness in our choices. This can be a difficult step, but Reusing has incredible monetary and emotional reward.
This is the BYO step — use cloth napkins, reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, bags and containers for groceries (check out the wonderful Shopping Guide from Litterless to find stores in your location where you can bring and refill your own containers). Look to mend and repair before purchasing new and look for products with lifetime warranties (check out Patagonia for inspiration from a company committed to Zero Waste).
Ultimately, recycling is the last in a series of actions we, as consumers, can take in order to lessen our impact on our Earth in the horrific cycle of resource demand and extraction.
The concept is not without merit, but the truth is, proper recycling protocol is something few of us have been taught, and because we live in a profit driven world lacking the infrastructure to effectively manage this process, if materials are not valuable enough to warrant the cost and energy associated with converting old materials into new ones, what may be a "recyclable" material may end up in a landfill, incinerator or water way near you. The best case scenario, every item placed in the recycling bin is truly recyclable and isn't contaminated with residual organic matter, compromising an entire load and costly equipment. Unfortunately, that's a rarity (I invite you to take a peak into a nearby recycling bin to verify). Here is an informative article from The Week that breaks down the truth about Recycling.
The bottom line is, we need to monumentally scale back the materials we produce, purchase and discard.
The final R is Rot — which means compost! Close to 60% of material in landfills are composed of organic matter that, in an otherwise aerobic setting, could become soil. Given all of that, in actuality, this R should be higher up on the list, because the process of decomposition and the resulting creation of more healthy soil teeming with beneficial microbes is a crucial part of carbon sequestration, growing non-toxic, nutrient dense food, and generally supporting life on our planet.
Have a garden? Why not make your own organic soil?! If you don’t have the ability to tend your own compost pile or worm bin, you can look into local compost programs, community gardens or farms that accept “donations”. This essential practice is becoming more normalized in our society; if your municipality doesn't already offer community wide composting (and recycling, for that matter), it's time to write some letters, make some phone calls and demand change. If you do compost, however, consider whether or not you can feed it to others first. The EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy is a great resource.
We know making the switch to Zero Waste is not all flowers and berries. Initially, it can feel extremely difficult to make these changes, but know you’re not alone and the effort is absolutely worth it — plus, it gets much, much easier (and it feels amazing)!
We’re proud to share our own stories of successes and challenges with you at this year’s SYF; from carefully choosing conscious vendors; improving waste diversion throughout the event; partnering with activists and off-setting our carbon footprint with ClimateYogi; and offering plenty of education and resources to our community during our time together — as Yogis, we believe we have the ability to inspire others and lead the way toward a more harmonious existence. Stay tuned for more updates and information on how you can get involved with Zero Waste at the Sedona Yoga Festival and beyond.
We are so delighted to have you join us on this journey; it’s the efforts of people like you that make this world a more wonderful place.
Please share any questions, tips, or great resources.
Jo and the SYF Zero Waste Team
Molly Jo Stanley
Educating for Mindfulness and Sustainability