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'World Without Waste' Movement Takes Hold in Nevada

The zero-waste movement encourages consumers to avoid individually wrapped items. (Dodgerton Skillhause/Morguefile)
The zero-waste movement encourages consumers to avoid individually wrapped items. (Dodgerton Skillhause/Morguefile)
December 4, 2017

RENO, Nev. -- Statistics show the average Nevadan creates more than 38 tons of trash each year. And now students at the University of Nevada-Reno are joining in a global movement to create a world without waste.

They held a workshop on sustainability this weekend to get people thinking about how to transform our culture and economy to reduce trash. Sierra Jickling, one of the event's organizers, said we have to start by refusing to buy items that have unnecessary packaging.

"Sometimes you have to go into the grocery store and you have to look at all the options that are available to you, and you have to say, you know, 'I don't need to buy this.’” Jickling said. "You have to refuse to kind of play into that, and that is really the first step in creating less waste."

For example, you might buy loose apples instead of those that come in a bag or Styrofoam clamshell. You might avoid things such as juice boxes or individually wrapped snacks, instead buying in bulk and putting them in reusable containers rather than baggies.

Jickling noted that excessive consumption contributes to climate change by eating up natural resources. And she said she worries that President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to the EPA will hurt experts' capacity to track consumption and waste.

As a whole, the U.S. creates 254 million tons of trash each year. And Jickling said it's going to catch up with us.

"Ultimately as a global society, we are going to have to reckon with the consequences of our waste, very soon,” she said. "We already have a floating ball of trash and plastic in the middle of the ocean, and that just grows the more that we create."

Scientists now say that our plastic trash breaks down into microscopic pieces that are ingested by plankton and fish and become part of the food chain. The sustainability movement also recommends people try to shop locally as often as possible, to reduce shipping waste.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV