People create waste every day. On average, Americans throw away over 4½ pounds of waste per person per day. With more than 300 million people in the U.S., it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that that is a lot of stuff—over 254 million tons! But when you think of throwing things away, one must ask: Where is “away”? Where does all this stuff go?
The reality is, there is no such place as “away.” Here in the U.S., we burn it (in incinerators) or dump it (into landfills). Either way, waste affects our air, our soil, and our water.
And just think of all of the resources that went into making all the garbage that we’re throwing away—trees, oil, food, metals, and so on. We must find new ways to make things that use less stuff and create zero waste.
In nature, waste does not really exist, because the “waste” from one natural process becomes the building materials for another. Think of a forest: The trees drop their leaves, which the insects and microorganisms break down and make into nutrients for the soil, which feed the plants. Nature doesn’t do waste; it’s not her style. And we don’t want it to be ours, either. That’s why Stonyfield Farm has made a firm commitment to eliminating solid waste at our Yogurt Works.
A few years ago, we set an aggressive goal of reaching zero waste by 2017. And by that, we mean zero waste to landfills or incinerators. In order to reach this ambitious goal, the Zero Waste MAP Team is plotting our course. We have a long way to go…and we’re not even sure how to get there. But this challenge allows us to rethink standard waste practices and find inventive solutions, reduce the amount of “stuff” we buy, reuse what we can, and recycle the rest.