Getting To Zero Waste

by Paul Palmer Ph.D.

This is a book that analyzes the current state of recycling and our system of garbage and finds it wanting.

The book bursts open the constricted set of self defeating procedures that have come to be known as diversion and recycling and shows you how a civilized society would deal with its excesses. This book shows you how a new definition of recycling can become exciting again - how it can be taken away from the garbage industry and joined once again to the environmental movement, where it belongs.

Imagine this: You are part of a huge population on a finite but wonderfully endowed planet. Your society makes all kinds of high-tech products such as computers, rocketships, dangerous but necessary chemicals, radioactive mixtures, medicines, new biological life forms, as well as millions of tons of ordinary products like clothing, buildings, furniture, books, machine tools, cellphones, musical instruments, guns, and thousands and thousands more. These products are used and they deteriorate, or they are no longer wanted by their owners. The owners need to move these products on so that they can obtain newer or better replacements. What scheme would you design to handle all those excess products?

Let's agree you realize quite well how foolish it is to leave these dangerous and toxic materials just littering your beautiful, finite planet. And you also realize that the raw materials for making all these products are getting scarce and expensive, the volume of demand is increasing without limit, and just finding or growing them is causing havoc on the planet.

Would you recommend that you dig a big hole in the ground and just continually throw this river of valuable products in that big pit? Or would you consider that a form of insanity? (A clue: insanity gets my vote!).

Or would you put your scientists, engineers and technologists to work designing ways to make the maximum use of every unwanted product? Would you repair and upgrade them? Would you insist that the products be made in such a way that they lend themselves to perpetual upgrade and reuse? Would you capture and convert all the component raw materials into new products? Would you try to capture the highest function of high-tech, complex products so as to conserve all the time and energy that went into creating their complexity?

Of course you would! Anything less is insane, irresponsible, irrational and wasteful - and unworthy of human beings.

Then why are we following the path of irresponsibility and insanity today? Why do we allow the garbage industry to impose a wasteful, irrational program on the rest of us? And why are we silent and complicit in the destruction of our planet?

This book explains that we started with garbage tens of thousands of years ago, when the world was much simpler, and we have never been willing to change to a rational plan. It explains in detail, what a rational plan would look like, how it can be implemented and what the social obstacles are that have so far prevented us from getting there. Like all radical, but necessary social change, rational management of society's excess products goes up against an entrenched industry that has learned how to make money by milking the status quo, no matter how destructive that is. And they use that money to keep the waste flowing and the application of intelligence at bay.

Here are some ideas you may not have encountered before:

The answer is "Yes!" See how it works in the pages of Getting to Zero Waste. And continue reading at the Zero Waste Institute page.