Zero Footprint
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Zero Footprint
We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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The Urban Quest for "Zero Waste"

The Urban Quest for "Zero Waste" | Zero Footprint |

Some cities are leading the way in reducing the amount of trash they send to landfills. Here's how they're doing it.

Across the country, a handful of municipalities are radically reducing the amount of refuse they send to landfills, with the eventual goal of reaching "zero waste." Seattle recycles or composts more than half of what its residents toss out. San Francisco diverts 77% of its waste from landfills. Even sprawling Los Angeles recycles or composts about two-thirds of its garbage.


Less Than Zero?

The prime benefits in adopting zero waste are environmental; many cities that have enacted zero-waste plans say they have taken up the task in the name of sustainability.


And supporters argue that reducing waste doesn't necessarily mean increasing costs. For cities with limited landfill space—and the higher fees that come with it—most zero-waste activities cost less than normal garbage disposal, says Gary Liss, a zero-waste consultant who has helped about 20 cities form plans to reduce waste.


One caveat: "Zero waste" doesn't necessarily mean "no waste." Most cities use a definition from Zero Waste International Alliance, an environmental group, which says that diverting 90% of waste from landfills without the use of incinerators is "successful in achieving zero waste, or darn close."


Why don't cities shoot for 100% diversion? "We're not crazy," says Neil Seldman, president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that promotes sustainable communities. The closer cities get to that goal, the harder it is to go further, largely because there are so many products out there that just can't be recycled—and people continue to buy them.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

By "Zero waste" I really do mean "no waste".  I do recognize that as we get closer to no waste, it will get harder to make more progress.  But perhaps closing the loop will make it easier at some point, by making it more obvious that everything must be made in a way that facilitates 100% recycling.

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Second Life: Using Recycled Materials For Architecture

Second Life: Using Recycled Materials For Architecture | Zero Footprint |
Using salvaged stuff not only has a positive environmental impact by reducing waste, it also offers architects materials typically unavailable.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, “If all the lumber used to build the 1.2 million new homes constructed in the U.S. each year were laid end to end, it would extend 2 million miles—a sobering statistic.

Dutifully sorting waste, separating the metal and plastic from the paper for different recycling streams is part of modern life. Some areas even have food waste collection for community compost.


Architects and designers are taking notice of the opportunities offered by recycling and reuse. Using salvaged materials not only has a positive environmental impact by reducing waste, it also offers architects materials typically unavailable, such as old growth lumber.


Visit the link for some prescient products and projects using recycled materials for architectural purposes.

Using recycled materials in building is not completely mainstream in the field of architecture. These examples show that being ecologically conscious doesn't have to impact the design and aesthetic of building projects and products.

Via Lauren Moss
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We need to find uses for 100% of our "waste" and resources that end up in architectural structures will tend to stick around longer before being recycled yet again.

Gash Tb's curator insight, September 23, 2013 12:08 AM


Amber Harsnett's curator insight, September 23, 2013 10:09 AM

I love this look of this building! It looks so organic and natural

Catherine Devin's curator insight, September 27, 2013 5:41 AM

La démarche requiert une structuration des filières de tri, collecte et recyclage sur les matériaux clefs, à une échelle industrielle et régionale si l'on veut généraliser l'emploi des matériaux recyclés et avoir un impact positif significatif sur plusieurs critères de développement durable qu'on pourrait associer au projet.