Jill Donello – Zero In on Zero Waste

Ex-business consultant specializing in process improvement and corporate education, now mom of two boys striving for Zero Waste.

Jill, what is the purpose of the Earth Resource Foundation?

Earth Resource Foundation (ERF) is an environmental educational non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, conserve, and restore the Earth to a healthy and sustainable state by redirecting available human, technological, monetary and academic resources. ERF works with youth, communities (government bodies) and businesses to make responsible choices about using the earth’s resources in a sustainable way.

Who should attend the upcoming Zero In on Zero Waste event?

The Zero In on Zero Waste Business Conference is open to all but focused on businesses who are interested in increasing their profits by eliminating or drastically reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfills or incineration. Many businesses who have achieved zero waste (or darn close!) have realized increased profits of millions of dollars annually simply by rethinking the way they use resources to produce their products or within their businesses processes. There are so many ways that companies have found to improve their businesses while reducing their environmental impact…this conference is designed to educate, demonstrate and inspire those who wish to do the same. It is one of the few opportunities to network and learn from zero waste companies.

When you talk of savings of millions of dollars it sounds like you are referring to fairly large companies, what would a smaller business owner get out of the conference and the networking opportunity?

It is true, most of the speakers are from multi-nationals (Toyota, Ricoh Electronics) which I think shows that zero waste is an attainable goal for all businesses, not just ones with small operations. The participants in the conference, however, range from large to small businesses (and also include government organizations, academics, and others), many local businesses attend making this a great networking event for companies looking to find “partners and collaborators” in their desire to build more sustainable businesses. The focus of the conference is to turn waste into profits, something I think businesses of any size can benefit from. Also, many cities (around the world) are beginning to adopt zero waste goals and standards (A few California examples include: Santa Monica, Burbank, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, Oakland, and San Bernadino county), so the sooner businesses learn about potential new regulations, the better they will be able to respond successfully.

Which companies are proud to claim ‘Zero Waste’ today?

There is a listing of several zero waste companies at Zero Waste Businesses. It’s by no means inclusive but provides some case studies on what companies are currently doing. Some really neat innovations have come from companies who have re-examined what’s being put in the trash…Vons (Safeway Stores) turns old produce into compost and donates non-saleable but edible items to local foodbanks, Ricoh Electronics eliminated a source of toxic waste by changing to re-usable containers for chemical deliveries, Interface carpet collects old carpeting and makes it back into new…Being a “zero waste company” is currently defined as one who is diverting 90% or greater of it’s waste from landfill or incineration.

What is important about your own involvement in this initiative, what meaning does it hold for you?

For me, the Zero Waste “movement” is important because it has the potential to impact a variety of “world struggles”. Mass consumption-ism is destroying the planet through overmining, pollution, global warming, landfill offgasing and land destruction, the destruction of our oceans… it also encourages unfair trade practices, worker exploitation and a plethora of other “societal ailments”. What I think is different about zero-waste from other green initiatives is that it’s goal is not to ask people to deny their basic needs or material desires but to fulfill those desires in a more sustainable way. The success of a zero waste isn’t based on guilting people/businesses into making more environmentally-friendly choices, but demonstrates that profitability and sustainability are equally-achievable goals. ZW is truly a win-win which is critical to making any real, sustainable change—businesses make more $, people get more needs satisfied, and the world becomes healthier…

Thank you Jill for sharing your passion for this topic, I hope that many businesses sign up for the conference to get educated. To register, view the speaker line up or to see how you can get involved visit Earthresource.org

Thursday, June 26, 2008 8:00 am to 5:30 pm
Location: Ford Motor Company
1 Premier Place, Irvine, CA 92618

© The Red Barn Cooperative

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