Talent Zero Waste Team
“In nature there is no such thing as waste. In nature nothing is wasted; everything is recycled.” David Suzuki
Definition of Waste: noun: an act or instance of using or expending something carelessly, extravagantly or to no purpose.
The Talent Zero Waste Team (TZWT) is an enthusiastic group of people who are passionately dedicated to lightening our impact on the planet by encouraging and inspiring Talent community members to reduce consumption which in turn reduces our “waste” footprint here in Southern Oregon and beyond. Many of the members are also Jackson County Master Recyclers, meaning they have all completed the Master Recycler Training Course and volunteer at least 10 hours a year to promoting recycling.
A subcommittee of Together for Talent, the TZWT meets the third Thursday of the month to work on a number of educational, outreach, advocacy and activity projects that support the process of moving towards becoming a Zero Waste community. Guided by the following mission “To inspire and foster a community without waste in Talent” the team has successfully led Talent towards being the first city in the state to approve an ordinance to ban all single use plastic for food service businesses and for events occurring on city property.
What exactly do we mean by Zero Waste, why is it important and what are some of the projects the TZWT is doing to foster Zero Waste in the City?
Let’s start by looking at our current situation. So often in today’s culture we throw perfectly good usable items in the trash or recycling never to see them again. We have lost touch with all the resources it took to make that single use item (often plastic) – the process of extracting or mining the raw material, shipping the material, manufacturing, more shipping to where it ends up in the consumer’s hands often to be used for a few minutes then tossed “away.” It sounds bleak and anyone who watches the news or reads the paper can see much of our human waste is wreaking havoc on this amazing planet’s environment and this is why shifting towards Zero Waste practices is so important.
Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resources life cycles so that all products are reused. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air using processes that mimic natural or biological systems.
In reality, Zero Waste is an ideal to works towards in an effort to reduce human impact from waste on the planet by changing our habits so that waste becomes the usable resource for another process or product.
Over the past 8 years the TZWT has collaborated with many local organizations including Recology’s Waste Zero Specialist, Southern Oregon Master Recyclers in Action (SOMRA), Jackson County Master Recyclers, Jackson County Recycling Partnership and Talent Maker City as well as enlisted 100’s of volunteers to provide important waste reducing services to the Talent community.
Each Spring, the Talent Round it Up and Turn it In Recycling Drop off is held as part of the Accent on Talent day events. Over the past 6 years tons of metals, electronics, building materials, household goods, Styrofoam packing peanuts, CFL bulbs, paper and more has been diverted from the landfill. This year’s drop off is on May 11th from 10am to 3pm.
Each Fall, the Talent Zero Waste Team has been working with the City of Talent to make the Annual Harvest Festival a Zero Waste event. At the event, the TZWT provides reusable utensils, beer and wine glasses instead of using disposable items. Also, during the festival, food waste is collected and composted, and clean paper, bottles, cans and cardboard is recycled. Event goers are encouraged to bring their own (BYO) reusable water bottles, to-go cups, utensils, cloth napkins, plates and shopping bags.
On April 3rd, 2019, the Talent City Council unanimously voted to direct staff to draft an ordinance prohibiting the use of food service ware and carryout bags composed of plastic or bioplastic based on the example recommended by the Talent Zero Waste Team and Together for Talent Committee. The team will now be working with the City to address nuances and maximize stakeholder involvement. This huge accomplishment is a big step towards banning single use plastics and becoming the first city in Oregon to do so.
Team members have been working hard to make sure this is an ordinance that community members can achieve by visiting 30 impacted businesses to learn about their current practices, discuss the proposal and listen to concerns. The committee has also been researching, testing and reviewing all currently offered alternatives to the plastics that are currently being used by local vendors as well as monitoring various efforts of other cities, states and countries to ban plastics.
The TZWT recommends transitioning food service businesses off of single use plastics in three phases. Phase one targets bags, straws, to-go containers and stirrers and should occur at least 90 days after the ordinance goes into effect but no more than 120 days. Phase two, which focuses on bowls, plates, cutlery and sauce cups, should occur within six months of the effective date and no more than one year. Phase three includes lids and cups (both hot and cold) so will be evaluated annually for feasibility since there are no reasonable alternatives as yet identified. The ordinance should apply to all food vendors that provide prepared food, including restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and food trucks. The ordinance should also apply to all city hosted and city sponsored events, meaning any event occurring on City property.
Other educational activities that TZWT members organize and host includes a quarterly Waste Not Film Night which has been showing films that emphasize the impact of plastic on the planet and other environmental issues. The events are so well attended they had to find a larger venue. A creative informational display at the Talent Public Library that will be in place April 23rd to the last week in May. Head over and check it out. Volunteers also host educational booths at the Rogue Valley Earth Day fair and Harvest Festival each year.
Talent Zero Waste Team invites you to attend one of their regular monthly meeting (the 3rd Thursday of the month), join in the discussion at the Talent Zero Waste Facebook Page or volunteer at one of their events.
Support Talent becoming a Zero Waste community by taking steps to Refuse to buy single use disposable items, Reduce the amount of plastics and trash in the waste stream by Reusing, Repairing, Repurposing, or Renting as it becomes more difficult to actually Recycle.
And remember There Is No Away!