One month since my last blog post, and the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the snow is melting away--quite a shift from the height of February winter blues! Some things have changed, but here at Climate Smart we're doing the same work: plugging away, advocating, and educating for a resilient, climate and energy smart community. As always, an ever-important part of that transition to cut our greenhouse gas emissions is our ever-popular bucket of Zero Waste: the topic of this month’s meetup!
I’ll set the scene: We’re in Imagine Nation Brewing’s cozy community room, standing room only. Drawings of happy planets and solar-powered spaceships are scattered across the tables, courtesy of the fifth-grade participants of Home ReSource’s Zero Waste Ambassadors Program (ZWAP!). The prompt for the drawings was simple enough: what kind of world do you want to grow up in? Based on the many colored pencil masterpieces we passed around, the students had no trouble answering the question. When Jeremy Drake, Home ReSource’s Community Engagement Manager, asked us what kind of world the adults in the room wanted to live in, however, it gave folks pause. We all know the issues and problems climate change and a dependency on fossil-fuel products presents us, but how do we envision a future beyond the issues?
One idea that resonated with folks was a world where we’ve reduced the barriers to doing the right thing: where composting and recycling services are accessible and it's possible to function throughout a day without needing a single-use plastic item. What a magical world, right? But how do you go about reducing those barriers?
One way Home ReSource and partners are trying to do just that is through the development of the Zero by Fifty Missoula website--Missoula’s one-stop shop for all things waste! When I moved here last summer, it was so difficult to find information about recycling and composting providers, as well as what to do with different harder-to-recycle items like batteries and light bulbs. This zero waste website aims to avoid all the google searching and phone calling by keeping that information accessible and, most importantly, up-to-date.
Not only will you find service providers listed, but the website also provides an awesome tool called “What do I do with…” that allows you to type in an item you’re not sure how to recycle and be directed to information about how to reduce that type of waste, how to reuse it, and how to recycle it if all else fails. Right now, the website has information on over 20 different items, and that number will continue to grow as more feedback comes in on what recyclables people need more information about. The energy behind the development of this web-source comes from the creation of Missoula’s Zero By Fifty plan to move the community towards zero waste. Details of the plan can be found on the website, and future tracking of Missoula’s progress will also be available there once an initial baseline study of our community’s waste is completed (hopefully by this year!). Check it out.
After we were taken through a tour of the new website, folks shared the inspiring ways that their organizations and businesses were taking on zero waste structures and transitions. From the replacement of plastic water bottles with recyclable aluminum bottles at Logjam Presents (woohoo!), to local artist Bonnie Tarses collecting bottle caps to make big beautiful art pieces, our community is bursting with energy and new ideas. And there are so many ways folks can plug in! This spring is chock full of opportunities to learn about zero waste, so bare with me as I lay them all out for you:
Whew. That’s all for now. As we move into what we’ve dubbed Earth Month (aka April), keep checking out our calendar and Happenings page for all the info on what’s going on. We’re grateful as always for such an engaged and active community--it’s a true privilege to be so busy.