Community Action Works
Community Action Works

Leading the way to zero waste

More than eight years ago, we started working to reduce waste in Boston. Today, our elected officials are beginning the process of planning for a zero waste city.

Lor Holmes, General Manager at CERO Cooperative, is one of the Zero Waste Boston Coalition leaders working to make this vision a reality. CERO is a worker-owned cooperative that diverts 45 tons of food waste per week and uses it to replenish the earth — exemplifying the practices of the circular and just waste economy we want to see in Boston.

“Zero waste — if you take it literally — means that anything that’s left over should be utilized as resources,” said Lor. “If there are leftovers that are not usable as resources, we shouldn’t bring them into being in the first place.”

In 2010, we formed the Zero Waste Boston Coalition out of a need to dramatically improve our waste system. Boston was burning or dumping far more recyclables than other cities of its size. We convened a group of leading activists across the city, and together we formed a comprehensive vision for a city committed to a zero waste future.

The Zero Waste Boston Coalition also stands for good, safe jobs for industry workers, for the benefits of a zero-waste economy shared equitably, and for a waste system that is healthy for all.

“Equitable means not just opportunity and access, but a strong intention of correcting historical inequity,” said Lor. “We all know that the impact of negative environmental outcomes has always been borne by low income communities and communities of color — so it’s important that we make the effort to turn this around to lift up those communities who have been historically disadvantaged.”

Last year, Boston announced that it would begin planning for a zero-waste city. The city has formed a Zero Waste Advisory Committee and we’re participating in the process to make sure the plan is as strong as possible, that it centers around our communities, and that equity measures to right historical wrongs are part of the solution.

“At CERO, our vision is neighborhoods and communities where we produce locally as much as possible of what we need — food, manufactured goods, homes — so that we’re utilizing energy that is sustainable, renewable and produced locally,” said Lor. “We want to have a circular system to not export waste — and not import the goods and services that we need.”

We’re proud to coordinate the Zero Waste Boston Coalition with Clean Water Action and core steering committee members Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), the Boston Student Advisory Council/Youth On Board, CERO Cooperative, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH).

Your support, and the commitment of visionary activists, makes this work possible — thank you.

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