Learn how to be zero waste

  • Contributed

    Co-founder of Zero Waste Kaua‘i John Harder wants to show residents ways to reduce landfill waste.

LIHU‘E — One of the most pressing issues the county faces is on the subject of waste diversion, John Harder, co-founder of Zero Waste Kaua‘i said.

Starting this week, the nonprofit will begin hosting educational webinars starting with the topic “What is Zero Waste?” tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.

Since 2006, Zero Waste Kaua‘i has provided educational material to the community and county on waste management. The group started in response to a waste-to-energy proposal that involved the incineration from the county’s then proposed Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan.

The county successfully diverts about 43% of land-fill bound waste through various programs like recycling and green waste sites, Harder explained.

Harder said the webinars are aimed to educate and expand the reach of the nonprofit.

“Even a lot of our new, active members aren’t familiar with zero waste,” Harder said. Zero waste and diverting materials, Harder said, looks like keeping compostable items out of the landfill, reutilizing construction debris so that it doesn’t just pile up, among other strategic measures.

Harder started up the Solid Waste Management program of the Department of Public Works on Kaua‘i in 1989. Part of his accomplishments includes completing the construction of the refuse transfer station in Lihu‘e and the closing of a landfill near Puhi. He helped to implement the state’s first publicly supported recycling and composting projects.

In 1991, he joined the Hawai‘i State Department of Health to lead the Office of Solid Waste Management, promoting recycling and compositing projects statewide. He also served as a head of solid waste division in Maui, upgrading regional landfills and implemented the first phase of an automated residential refuse collection system.

“Zero waste is about reeducation,” Harder said, pointing to the individual level like buying in bulk so there’s less to throw away. “We have become addicted to consumerism, we need to work on that.”

A question and answer session will follow Harder’s presentation. To register for the webinar, visit: https://bit.ly/3aaFeHK.


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