On Dec. 11, 2011, the U.N. Convention on Climate Change agreed to maintain international climate change mitigation efforts. New legally enforceable accords will be fully in place by 2020. One of the most important outcomes of this convention was the specification of waste management as a key instrument for climate change mitigation. The delegates demonstrated wisdom and foresight in acknowledging how critical sustainable waste management practices are to our future health. We are hopeful that this recognition will help to re-invigorate interest in sustainable, zero waste management practices in Vermont and beyond.
Practicing the three R’s (reducing/reusing/recycling) and composting of organic matter are still the best individual practices to help reduce waste and achieve zero waste goals. Central Vermont’s recycling rates have stalled at around 30 percent, and for many the importance of waste reduction isn’t even on the “radar.” We can improve recycling rates if each individual, family and business makes recycling a standard operating practice. It’s easy and it costs less than throwing something in the trash (landfill). We can also rethink our consumptive habits, emphasizing reuse and reduction strategies. Such thrift is a Vermont tradition worth honoring.
It’s time for our society to move past the “throwaway” mentality. Let’s move toward a zero waste society instead.
Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District
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