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Monday, March 8, 2021

WWU Students for zero waste: Haste makes waste

By Michael Nguyen

Have you ever asked for no straw while grabbing a coffee? This was one of the many tips from the new club on campus, WWU Students for Zero Waste.

The club met for the first time in Arntzen Hall, room 12, at 3 p.m., on Tuesday, Oct. 3, which will also be the time and place for weekly meetings until further notice.

Gwen Larned, Zero Waste Western coordinator, broke the ice by asking the classroom, “What do you feel bad about throwing away?” Answers varied from product packaging, plastics, cups, containers to electronics. Even a few trash puns found their way into the fray.

“Straws … they really suck,” said Alice Ryan, a prospective new member.

According to nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, the average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash a day, contributing to 258 million tons of trash the United States produces a year. In 2014, American communities recycled and composted about 35 percent of solid waste, which reduced waste by 89 million tons.

“Living zero waste doesn’t fix the system,” Larned said. “It’s a demonstration against the system.”

Tips on keeping minimal waste. // Photo by Michael Nguyen

During the meeting, talk consisted of eliminating disposable plastics and other one-time use items on campus. Issues like linear consumption, where at the end of an economic model waste is created, were also mentioned.

Words like respect, responsibility, resourcefulness, civic engagement, community and education were popcorned from members while brainstorming for the club’s mission and goals.

During the meeting, Larned mentioned landfills were only symptoms of a larger problem. Coming from Leavenworth, which she describes as beautiful but also a tourist trap, where visitors are not mindful of the impact waste has on the local area, played a huge part on why she got involved with issues of sustainability.

“The problem is the way that we produce the goods that we consume,” said Larned.

Molly Reetz, Zero Waste Western assistant, weighed in on what living zero waste means to her. Reetz said she views items as more resource-oriented, describing it as a story, considering variables that went into the creation and life of the item such as raw materials, packaging, amount of energy used, distance traveled and so on, then asking herself if she really needs it or not.

Reetz mentioned the term, “haste makes waste” referring to idea that the faster and more convenient something is, the more likely it is to produce waste of some sort.

“I view it as a story, and the longer the story the less I want to buy it,” said Reetz.

Chelsea Douglas, a member of the club, had some advice on going zero waste. She suggested reusing baggies or other items from home, and taking the time to enjoy that moment while letting yourself enjoy the feeling of taking responsibility for what you own.

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