Wouldn’t it be nice if everything had a net zero waste? Moving towards designs that incorporate this aspect is what everyone should do. There are many big designers, landscape architects and architects who are designing buildings, houses, objects and cities so that there is little to zero waste produced. At the University of California Davis the Whole Earth Festival is a net zero waste event and Picnic Day will follow soon. They are also one of the few college campuses moving towards a net zero waste campus.
Have net zero waste is not the same as being self-sustaining. Self-sustaining for a building means the building creates all of the energy consumed, for lights and appliances, uses only water from on site and produces food onsite. This could mean using solar panels or photovoltaic cells, wind turbines, rainwater catchment systems and having community gardens usually on the rooftop. Green roofs and rooftop gardens help insulate the building, which reduces the amount of heating and cooling buildings need. Net zero waste is where an event, object or site uses products made off site but has little to no waste after using them. This can be getting food off site but then composting what is not used or only using products made with biodegradable or compostable materials.
Designers are moving more towards designing with sustainability in mind. Keeping the terms Net Zero Waste and Self-sustaining in mind will help get these concepts out into the world of design. Sustainability and designing to better society does not have to be this outlandish idea with solar panels and green roofs it can start with using a compostable plate instead of a Styrofoam plate.