Daily VideoMarch 5, 2013
Can a City Produce Zero Waste?
Americans throw away about 250 million tons of garbage every year; roughly four pounds per person per day. All of this trash builds up in monumental landfills, causing environmental damage and emitting harmful greenhouse gases.
The city of San Francisco is currently a leader in waste reduction, with 80 percent of its waste going either to recycling or composting instead of a landfill; far above the national recycling average of just 35 percent.
However, for some residents, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, think this doesn’t go far enough.
“We want 100 percent zero waste,” he says. “This is where we’re going.”
The city hopes to meet this goal through a combination of laws and information. The city randomly inspects residents’ trash cans to see how they’re doing, and sends teams of workers to educate those who had put items in the wrong bins.
The city plans to ban those items, like plastic bags, that cannot be recycled. And for residents who refuse to sort their trash, the program could be quite expensive. San Francisco can impose fines on those who don’t comply that range from $100 to $1,000, although the city has only handed out warnings at this point.
“All of us, as part of our culture of living here in the Bay Area, have appreciated the goals of our environment and climate change and doing everything that we can.
And I think the 80 percent, we’re not going to be satisfied with that, Spencer. We want 100 percent zero waste. This is where we’re going,” – Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco.
Warm up questions
1. Do you recycle? Why or why not?
2. What is the difference between recycling and composting?
3. What are greenhouse gases? Why are they bad?
1. Do you think cities should be able to impose laws and penalties on residents for not recycling? Why or why not?
2. What do you know about the trash and recycling policies where you live?
3. What could the city do to make it easier or more attractive for people to recycle?
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
Residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have urged for peace in their town following weeks of protests over the killing of an unarmed teen by a police officer. Continue reading
A new side effect of climate change has appeared in Siberia, where mysterious, giant holes the size of football fields have opened in the ground. Continue reading
There was new unrest in Ferguson, Missouri yesterday, after police shot and killed a robbery suspect in nearby St. Louis who reportedly threatened them with a knife. Continue reading
More than 1.5 million Iraqis have fled their homes due to threats from a militant Islamic group that is seeking to overthrow the government. Continue reading
The shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, has spurred over a week of protests and thrown the question of police diversity into the spotlight. Continue reading