Why Zero Waste?

Members of the Zero Waste Subcommittee meeting recently at the Los Alamos County Eco Station. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com

ZWLA News:

Did you know that Los Alamos has a Zero Waste Subcommittee (ZWLA)? This group started as a subcommittee of the Environmental Sustainability Board and now welcomes participation from others who want to contribute to the Zero Waste aspect of environmental sustainability.

There are representatives from the Los Alamos High School Eco Club, Sierra Club and Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Anyone interested in attending a meeting should email solidwaste@lacnm.us for more information.

Manager Angelica Gurule of the Environmental Services Division explained why the subcommittee is focusing on Zero Waste.

“Los Alamos County has been on a waste reduction journey for a long time and continues to explore ways to divert waste currently sent to the Rio Rancho landfill,” Gurule said, adding that this process is not sustainable, and it is expensive. In addition, waste diversion can reduce the carbon footprint and conserve non-renewable resources.

Departmental efforts and subcommittee outreach aim to reduce landfill expense and enhance sustainability in two ways. The first is to divert valuable and reusable materials from the landfill. The second is to change consumption habits that would result in decreased waste generation.

Current diversion efforts have included expanding the recycle program, local use of yard and horse stable manure for the local compost supply, and the most recent addition of yard trimming  roll carts, recovery of glass, electronics, tires, metal, medical sharps, asphalt and concrete, motor oil, and batteries, as well as a reuse area at the Eco Station. The County continues to seek opportunities to divert and reduce waste. Changing consumption habits is the second aspect of sustainability and waste reduction.

ZWLA members focus on outreach, education and public input to move forward. They encourage a societal mindset of Reduce · Reuse · Recycle. “What can I do with this instead of throwing it away?” “In the future, how can I avoid the need to throw away an item like this?”

During outreach events at the Recycle Fashion Show and the Farmers Market, community members have shared ideas, asked questions, and stated support for the County’s efforts. Community support has materially manifested in changed practices and lifestyles that have reduced the amount of trash transported to a landfill.

ZWLA members will have a booth at the Summer Concert on August 10 and invite the community to stop by and chat.

Further information about Los Alamos’ zero waste initiatives, as well as tips on reducing waste, can be found at   https://www.losalamosnm.us/gogreen