© Rommel Cabrera/GAIA
©Tjasa Frida-Fridizia/Zero Waste Europe

the way to zero waste

Zero waste is not only possible, it’s happening. In small towns and big cities, in communities rich and poor, in the global North and South, innovative plans in place today are making real progress toward the goal of zero waste.

Zero Waste

ze·​ro waste | \ ˈzē-(ˌ)rō ˈwāst

The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health. – Zero Waste International Alliance

5 Pillars of Zero Waste
Set a goal to Zero Waste going to dumps, landfills and incinerators
Hold producers accountable so they design out waste from their business models
Encourage responsible consumption habits that respect ecological limits
Build Zero Waste infrastructure to ensure materials are reused, repaired, or failing that, recycled or composted
Prioritize social and environmental justice making sure that everyone’s voices — especially workers and communities on the frontlines of the waste crisis — are heard and respected.

How zero waste has transformed communities around the world, making them more resilient, beautiful, and happy places to live and work.

© Santiago Vivacqua/GAIA

Zero waste is social justice.

Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Once they were harassed and even jailed, just for trying to feed their families by collecting recyclables that would have otherwise been wasted. Thanks to fearless organizing, now recycling cooperatives of Buenos Aires have won a decent and dignified living and are bringing their city closer to zero waste.

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Zero waste is stronger communities.

Boston, United States

The word “cero” in spanish means “zero,” and that’s the focus of this composting cooperative in Boston: moving the city towards zero food waste, and building stronger, more equitable communities in the process. The seeds of CERO were first planted at a meeting where local community members gathered to discuss how to improve recycling rates and create good jobs for marginalized communities.

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Rie Macchiarolo harvesting ground cherries at the Green City Growers HQ. ©Astudillo/Survival Media Agency/Zero Waste U.S.
©Rommel Cabrera/GAIA

Zero waste is a healthier planet.

Tacloban City, The Philippines

Six years ago, the city of Tacloban in the Philippines was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, and struggling to rise from the wreckage, and the overflowing dumpsite that plagued the community. These days, when people talk about Tacloban City, it is no longer just about how a massive typhoon brought what was then a burgeoning city to its knees, it is also about how, in six years, people got back up on their feet; and how the community, in its bid to rise from the devastation, found its way on the road to Zero Waste.

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Take Action

Find GAIA members in your region


GAIA members are implementing zero waste systems around the world. Need guidance finding the right zero waste path for your city? Get in touch with your local GAIA member.

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Learn how YOUR city can go zero waste


Want to know how cities around the world are moving towards zero waste? Check out our resources page for case studies, toolkits, tips and tricks from our zero waste experts in our network.

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Join the Break Free from Plastic Movement


Join the global movement working to stop plastic pollution for good! Add your name to the growing list of groups who have committed to work together based on our shared Vision and Principles.

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