Sustainable Tarpon Springs: Moving Towards Zero Waste

An invitation to be part of a ‘Conversation and Action Network’ of friendly folks with a vision to see a ‘greener’ and more Sustainable Tarpon Springs.

Last week, I very briefly eluded to a presentation I created while living in the Seattle area—Moving Towards Zero Waste.

It has certainly been a personal passion and mission for me over the past decade, and was doubly inspired by the City of Seattle’s adoption of a ‘zero waste strategy’ in 2007. 

This was as forward-thinking as any city policy could be, eliminating out-of-state transfer of landfill garbage while implementing mandatory recycling and composting. You’d think such a visionary goal would be impossible to roll-out in a metropolitan area of that size, but the people embraced it—and the rest is history.

Maybe you haven’t given the concept of ‘garbage’ too much thought yet?  I didn’t, until I heard an interview with Heather Rogers, author of Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage on the radio.  For me in was a moment where ‘the light went on.'

As a lover of the Earth, I started realizing how out of control our ‘throw away society’ had become. Even when I lived in rural eastern Washington, do-it-yourself dumps had arisen everywhere, leaving evidence of careless humans all over the glorious landscape. I would go out on clean up missions when I rode my bike or took walks around our area. 

Every time I went camping, I’d spend the first hour picking up trash. Nowadays, only 17 percent of the Earth remains untouched by humans, but we are certainly making our mark. We are the only species that has forgotten how to live in harmony with nature, creating 4-4.5 pounds of garbage a day, on average.

There is hope however, if we just start paying attention to what we are ‘trashing’ - and make a concentrated effort to slowly and deliberately change our habits.  Just starting with one small step at a time, such as using reusable bags at the grocery store, keeping them in your car all the time so you don’t forget to use them, is progress. 

Then, realizing the needless use of plastic produce bags, and simply shopping the way our grandparents might have - putting produce right into the cart, into our own bags, then into a drawer in the refrigerator or our own containers at home.  

Eating less processed and packaged foods by buying in the bulk section and using our own containers, we’re not only drastically minimizing waste, we are eating healthier. If we were to focus on one or two ways of minimizing waste—examining why we use plastic or styrofoam would be the best places to start: 

  • Consider taking your own containers, preferable stainless steel, to a restaurant for your leftovers or take-out. 
  • Consider buying your own travel mug for when you get espresso or chai at the local coffee shop. 
  • Consider filtering your own water into a stainless steel bottle instead of endlessly using plastic bottles. 

Every positive choice, especially when you influence others to do the same, is fabulously contagious!

Let’s ‘infect Tarpon Springs’ with the zero waste bug - and become an outstanding community example of what is possible.  

For some personal inspiration, the Johnson and Johnson heirs have established a zero waste home.  Here are some of their suggestions:  http://earth911.com/news/2011/04/13/zero-waste-johnson-family/  If you haven’t seen the film, No Impact Man, there is plenty of inspiration in that documentary as well.  

What is at stake if we don’t change our ways?  The quality of life for every creature on this planet is jeopardized, especially our future generations.  It is time to think sustainably NOW.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Adelle M Blackman February 06, 2013 at 08:21 PM
For 8 years I paid a over priced amount for garbage service.. For $36 a month Tarpon can worry about that. Now being un incorporated I finally found a great garbage service for half price. I gladly recycle almost everything I have. I do eat a lot of foods that come in little boxes but they use recycle. I then put it back in the system to use again. What I am upset with, is obviously Tarpon is getting kickbacks for Waste Management as they could hire Waste Pro at half the price & get far BETTER service. We are so happy with Waste Pro for $18 a month & get 2 rescycle bins, a large 90 gallon can,& can put out yard waste anytime we want. I want to know why Tarpon every time turns down other trash services that charge far less. I think it is about time that Mike Deeson check & see why Tarpon does this. I am glad I am outside the city limits and can now get better service at half the price. I am still stuck with over priced water & outrageous sewer bills that I should not have as an un incorporated resident. I pay almost as much for 1 month as my daughter does for 2. What is wrong with this picture? Tarpon will tell you they are going to put an R/O system in & save? No way.. We are on salt water. It would be a del sal system at twice the cost, then it would go bankrupt or double or triple your bill. Don't let this happen. Call Dunedin & talk to the R/O plant as they have all the info on what is under us here & what would happen.
Denise Mannino February 06, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Thanks for your insights, Adelle! I will do more research and get back to our readers about this. Anyone else who has feedback on this topic, please add to this discussion. We definitely recycle MORE at our house than using garbage service, yet our trash pick-up is Mon. and Thurs. while recycling is only picked up once a week. Thus, we went out and bought our own LARGE recycle can to accommodate our needs.
Jim Bouldin February 09, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Denise, I want to be like you when I grow up (If I ever do)!
Chrisi Sfero February 12, 2013 at 04:17 PM
I really enjoy your blog. I am happy to see new suggestions, and topics I have not even thought of. My family and I care about growing and being a part of a sustainable home and community. We have just moved here almost a year ago, and we are still learning on everything from our salad bowl garden to FL native plants. Thanks again, for your thought provoking articles.
Denise Mannino February 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Thank you, Chrisi! I enjoy expressing my passion about sustainability, and it is a double pleasure if any suggestions are utilized. I hope you can find us at the Tarpon Sunday Market some weekend and introduce yourself so we can share more community opportunities with you.


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