Blog Posts By:

Alex Truelove,
Director, Zero Waste Campaign

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted and changed our lives in countless ways. Some of those changes have challenged our ability to handle and reduce our waste. Some changes have presented new opportunities. Here are some of the results, both good and bad:

Our country has a waste problem. It's time for new solutions and a renewed commitment to move toward zero waste. PIRG and Environment America's advocates, organizers and members are promoting ways to reduce what we consume, reuse what we can, and recycle the rest.

Extended producer responsibility is the first step.

This product is certified compostable. Increasingly, this phrase is appearing on a variety of everyday goods -- from paper coffee cups and plastic forks to molded pulp packaging.

On holidays, most of us like to shop or grill or visit grandma or the in-laws. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s good for our souls to take a moment to remember the meaning of each holiday. Consider Earth Day.

Banning single-use plastics is a better solution that taxing them or trying to recycle them. Doing so is more effective and feasible in reducing plastic pollution.

Sure, it keeps your coffee hot. But polystyrene foam, what most of us call Styrofoam, is clogging our landfills, littering our streets, and polluting our parks, rivers and oceans. Nothing we use for a few minutes should threaten our health and pollute our environment for hundreds of years. It’s time to say goodbye to take-out plastic foam cups and containers.

A solution to America’s trash problem requires a paradigm shift in how we, as a country, think about waste. For that shift to happen, we need to examine the parts of the system that we don’t see every day.

Most of us have encountered the three Rs of being green, complete with the eminent symbol of three green arrows forming a triangle. Perform a quick online search and you’ll see all kinds of fact sheets and infographics detailing how the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” conserves natural resources, landfill space, and energy. Most of these accounts imply that the three R’s are created equal. In other words, recycling is just as good as reusing or reducing, so long as you’re not throwing stuff away. But wait, that’s not true! The three R’s appear in a particular order for a reason, to show hierarchical preference.