A zero waste alternative for Guam

According to Pål Moretenssom, a board member of Zero Waste Canada, practicing zero waste starts with exercising mindfulness.

Do you hate taking out the trash? Well, what if you didn’t have any trash to take out in the first place?

With only a few years before cells 1 and 2 of the Layon Landfill reach full capacity, Guam may have to find other ways to accommodate the island’s waste.

One solution can be found in practicing zero waste, which is a set of principles that focuses on not managing waste, but preventing it altogether by reusing items and making sure that little to no waste is sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.

According to Pål Moretenssom, a board member of Zero Waste Canada, practicing zero waste starts with exercising mindfulness.

“It’s very easy, you know. They can start by looking under their sink and looking at how much they sort their waste and also thinking about the end of the life of the product. Like what’s happening with this product after it’s been taken care of. Because when you’re looking at waste, it’s the end of the line, you know. It’s all the leftovers. And most of the people just want to put it in a bag and get out and get rid of it and don’t touch it,” Moretenssom said.

He added that being critical of one’s consumption pattern is important because as more people become richer, the more waste is created.

He especially stresses the importance of practicing zero waste on a place such as Guam, which ships garbage to foreign countries.

“Do you really need all these products that you’re bringing here? And how can you take care of them? And if you’re working on a sustainable loop or a closed system, you should also be able to able to take care of them. Probably you can ship away some waste now or put it in the landfill or whatever you do. But to become a real, sustainable society you should think what can you bring into the island and can you take care of it?” he asked.

Moretenssom also went into detail about some of the risks associated with using alternative waste disposal solutions and encourages being conscious of one’s consumption habits.

“We don’t support landfills and we don’t support incineration. In my opinion, a very stupid solution. And everyone knows that if you burn something, it’s gone forever. And there are some toxic leftovers – the ashes and the emissions we are breathing – and you should look into what is being incinerated. What are you actually burning? These are resources. You cannot take out the virgin resources to burn them. We have to recycle, reuse them, and try to react as much as possible when it comes to stupid consumption,” Moretenssom said.

If practicing zero waste is something that interests you, a presentation of Guam’s Zero Waste Plan will be featured at the Pacific Islands Environment Conference tomorrow from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at the Hyatt Regency Guam.