“One man’s waste is another man’s treasure.”

“What goes in, comes out” and “waste not, want not” are other familiar sayings regarding waste and garbage.  But, what is waste, really?  Waste is a part of our relationship with our resources, a relationship we’ve overlooked and dismissed as trivial until fairly recently.  For a long, long time, we created products and packaging from our resources that decomposed or broke down organically.  With the advent of the scientific revolution and emergence of plastics, much of our waste is now relatively permanent, made up of materials that don’t break down, at least not for hundreds of years.  Modern living has created waste that requires burial, bioremediation, or incineration to break it down and at least get it out of sight or make it seem invisible.  We consider ridding ourselves of garbage as throwing it ‘away’ where it is no longer cluttering up our lives.  ‘Away’ is an actual, real place where we send our waste and increasingly ‘away’ is closer and closer to home.

Zero Waste has arrived.

Zero Waste Green Awards

At Pringle Creek Community’s Painters Hall, we practice what is known as Zero Waste.  ‘Zero Waste’ is a shift in how we act and interact with products and purchases, and it is a practice and philosophy gaining momentum in Oregon and around the world.  At Painters Hall, our community center here at Pringle Creek Community, we consider the waste-stream with each purchase and for every event.  Before we buy anything, we consider how it is packaged and if buying in bulk or from bulk bins is possible, we go that route re-using bags and bottles as we buy items we need.  We don’t buy anything in a package that isn’t recyclable.    For outside events, when someone rents our beautiful hall for a wedding, birthday, or business event, we communicate with the planners to ensure that they realize they can use our washable dishes, silverware, glasses, and serving dishes versus disposables.  The results for all of us and our guests is a deeper, more enjoyable experience.  We hear a lot of feedback about how people really appreciate that their event was a ‘clean’ and conscientious one. They tell us that they’re taking the model of  zero waste living away with them.  It really is uplifting knowing that your actions aren’t creating further harm to the environment!

Zero Waste is a practice that is gaining attention.  Across the U.S.  a number of states are working to reduce their waste and decrease the amount of trash that goes into their landfills.  Carrboro, California created a zero waste plan in 1998 and in 2012 created a formal zero waste resolution.  Boulder, Co and Fort Collins, Co both started similar policies in the late 1990s, Oakland, Ca started in 2006, Seattle enacted a zero waste resolution in 2007,  and Austin, Texas enacted a plan in 2011. San Francisco currently has the highest waste diversion rate in the country, with 80% of its garbage composted or recycled.

SPFS racing to zero

San Francisco’s story is the topic of a film, Racing To Zero/ In Pursuit of Zero Waste, showing Tuesday, November 16th at the Salem Progressive Film Series (SPFS) at the Grand Theater at 7 p.m.  The film highlights the efforts of the city of San Francisco to be a Zero Waste city by 2020.  Join the SPFS for the film. After every film, the SPFS offers a live discussion with those involved in making the film and local people involved in the topic.  After this film there’ll be a discussion with Racing To Zero’s producer, Diana Fuller, San Francisco’s Department of the Environment’s Zero Waste Manager Robert Haley, and Todd Irvine of the Mid-Valley Garbage and Recycling Association.

You are always welcome to come to Painters Hall at PCC to experience the splendor of zero waste in person.  Our address is 3911 Village Center Dr. SE in Salem.  Together we are making a difference – and living much more comfortably!