Not All Heroes Wear Capes

The Zero Waste Heroes had a successful 2018! In the programs sixth year in action, our team worked to reduce and divert waste at 22 Farmers Markets, 11 Outdoor Concert Series, 7 major events and 2 neighborhood block parties.

Our hosted zero waste stations help events achieve a high level of diversion, while also educating the station user on how to recycle properly. Over 23,000 people used the AWARE zero waste stations in 2018 and we had in-depth conversations around waste with over 600 people.

Common Topics of Conversation

  • Compostable and biodegradable are not the same thing. Biodegradable plastics break down into smaller pieces of plastic that are very challenging to remove from the environment, whereas compostable plastics break down into organic material that is safe for soils. Compostable plastics are identified by reading an item’s label. Look for the number 7 recycling triangle paired with the letter ‘PLA’ underneath or a compost certification.
  • When food breaks down in landfill it creates methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2, and can contaminate groundwater with toxic leachate. When food is commercially composted locally it turns into nutrient rich soil amendment that can be used to grow future food.
  • Plastics aren’t truly recycled; they are downcycled. A plastic bottle will never become a plastic bottle again. Instead, it becomes a lesser product until eventually, it ends up in the landfill.
  • Food contaminated paper is valuable in the ‘Food Scraps & Organics’ bin as a certain amount of pulp is required in the composting process and is a contaminant in the paper recycling.
  • Every piece of plastic ever produced still exists today! Single-use items are used for minutes, but will outlive us. Bring your own [bag, water bottle, mug, straw and cutlery] to avoid being a part of this story.
  • Plastic must be rinsed because contaminants interfere with the chemical rebond of the product. If a batch of recycling is too contaminated it ends up in the landfill.
  • Take lids off of containers and bottles before recycling, as most recycling goes through a rinse phase. By keeping the lid off this allows for the inside to be more thoroughly cleaned.
  • Coffee cups are about 10% plastic lined and belong in the ‘Mixed Containers’ bin.

In addition to helping events manage their waste on the day(s) of their event, we also work closely with events to help identify opportunities for waste reduction. We strongly believe that the best way to deal with waste is to not create it in the first place. From product purchasing to menu creation, events have a lot of opportunities to design out waste creation in the planning stages.

Of the 42 events we supported this Summer, 40 of them were zero waste. An event is considered zero waste when 90% of its waste is diverted from landfill. Although 90% in an incredible achievement we always aim to push events as close to 100% diversion as possible.

Learn more about the Zero Waste Heroes Program.

Overall Zero Waste Hero Program Successes:

Waste Collected (KGs)
% of Waste Diverted
Events Supported
Station Users

Our community has come a long way on its zero waste journey, but we still have a long way to go. Everyone plays a role in this process, so love this place, reduce your waste.

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