8 need-to-know nonprofits promoting zero waste


Where? Boulder County, Colorado

Focus: Eco-Cycle is a community-based, nonprofit, social enterprise that promotes and implements zero waste. In a nutshell, they use zero waste strategies to help communities make a positive impact on the largest issues of our time, climate change, resource depletion, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and social injustices caused by the way we use and destroy our resources.

On zero waste: See Eco-Cycle's full-length feature, here!

Photo credit: Eco-Cycle


Where? United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, India and Sri Lanka.

Focus: For nearly 20 years, TRAID has worked to tackle and solve the problems caused by producing, consuming, and disposing of clothes.

On zero waste: "In the UK, we are throwing away around 300,000 tonnes of clothes every year, much of it wearable, while buying more clothes than ever. Between 2012 and 2016, the amount of clothes purchased in the UK increased by a massive 200,000 tonnes. Our wardrobes are bigger, we update them more frequently and clothes are increasingly regarded as disposable. To counter this, TRAID works to provide clothes reuse services, change attitudes, and shape behaviour to keep clothes in use for longer. We provide clothes reuse banks and a free collection service for households and businesses to make it easy for individuals and businesses to pass on clothes they no longer need. TRAID also runs well-stocked attractive charity shops in London offering a genuine second-hand alternative to buying new on the high street. Plus, we also offer repair workshops and sustainable education resources designed to support people to create a more sustainable wardrobe."

Check out: TRAID's recent research revealed that 23% of Londoner's clothes are unworn. That's equivalent to 123 million items of clothes, 56 million m3 of water (which would take the entire population of London nearly 15 years to drink) and 35,000 tonnes of CO2! This is unsustainable. But we can fix it. TRAID has called on London to pass these clothes on for someone else to use saving water, carbon, and waste to ensure sustainable consumption and production. P.S. Participating in the campaign also enables TRAID to fund global projects supporting more sustainable production in the fashion industry. Find out more here!

Photo credit: TRAID


Restart Project
Where? Global

Focus: The Restart Project is a people-powered social enterprise and charity that aims to fix our relationship with electronics and use the data and stories they collect to help demand better, more sustainable electronics for all. Restart Project regularly runs Restart Parties, where people teach each other how to repair their broken and slow devices; everything from tablets to toasters, iPhones to headphones.

On zero waste: "Our repair events are not just free repair shops. Our fixer volunteers engage people in repairs by asking them to help disassemble or troubleshoot their device or appliance. This action-oriented learning is transformational, not only helping people gain new skills, but helping people experience firsthand the system-level barriers to keeping products for longer. Participants learn about poor design, about obstacles to repair, and become better informed about their next potential purchase. We fix about 53% of the items brought to our three-hour events. But the rest serve as a massive learning opportunity. We also collect data, in our wider network, on the items that are end-of-life (designed to be discarded) or are left in 'limbo.' These products could be repaired if only we removed barriers to repair (principally lack of access to spare parts and repair documentation). In zero waste activism, we can't miss the forest for the trees. That is, we need to be aware of our personal experiences, but we MUST look at systems of production and consumption. We need to fix things around us and fix the system."

Check out: The Restart Project is urging Europe to adopt its original, ambitious measures for more repairable appliances. (Key votes are happening now, in January.) This is just the beginning of a multi-year "Right to Repair" campaign kicking off in Europe, by community repair groups, companies, environmental NGOs, consumer rights groups and think-tanks. Keep an eye on the hashtag #RighttoRepair for more.

Two new "Restarters" at a Restart Party in Kentish Town, UK; Photo credit: Heather Agyepong


Plastic Pollution Coalition
Where? Global

Focus: With more than 750 coalition members in 60 countries, Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing alliance of individuals, organizations, businesses, and policymakers working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, waterways, the ocean, and the environment.

On zero waste: "Plastic Pollution Coalition cultivates solutions through:

  • Community Building: coalition members collaborate through the following working groups: Legislation & Policy; Media and Messaging; Plastic Straws; and Polystyrene as well as in-person coalition luncheons currently held in Washington, D.C.; Berkeley, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Los Angeles, CA.

  • Storytelling: change individual behavior and consciousness through the power of journalism, visual art, digital media, original video, and information-sharing, which includes redefining single-use plastic as inconvenient, harmful, and unnecessary.

  • Policy: develop, share, and implement tools to change local law and regulation to encourage or require non-plastic or reusable alternatives.

  • Research: reveal the true cost and health impacts of single-use plastic through health pilot studies and lifecycle impact assessments, evaluate mechanisms that drive behavior change away from single-use plastic, and update plastic materials measurement protocols.

  • Campaigns: drive change at the corporate level through targeted multimedia campaigns."

Check out: PPC's The Last Plastic Straw (TLPS) is an ongoing campaign working with restaurants and businesses to change plastic straw protocol, share best practices, and advise on policy and legislation. TLPS is planning an educational tour with the STRAWS film for spring and fall 2019.

Fast food companies do not consistently or comprehensively report on their global plastic practices. The PPC Global Fast Food Survey will challenge companies to match the progress made by their competitors and reduce plastic pollution originating from fast food business operations through transparent data collection.

Plastic pollution on a beach in Manila, Philippines; Photo credit: Dianna Cohen


Feedback Global
Where? Global

Focus: Did you know that around a third of all food produced worldwide is wasted? Feedback Global's vision is a circular food system, one that gobbles far fewer resources to produce food, loses far less food in the form of waste, and regenerates nature. To do this, Feedback Global challenges power, catalyzes action and empowers people to achieve positive change.

On zero waste: "We work at a policy level as well as to help individuals to become 'food citizens.' At a policy level, we to aim to influence large corporations and encourage governments to implement sustainable food policies from farm to fork. We publish research, speak at conferences, and demonstrate to the decision makers that alternatives to the unsustainable food model currently exist. Working directly with individuals means that we can help people to be more engaged in the issue of food waste. Instead of being passive consumers of food, we can all become active food citizens and take part in shaping our food system, for our health and our planet."

Check out: Feedback Global has just launched "The Cow in the Room," a new campaign calling on a commitment to halve meat and dairy consumption. Feedback Global supports the brilliant local producers of meat and dairy who use sustainable methods but expressed that our food is predominantly controlled by corporations who prioritize profit over protecting the environment. If we all pledge to reduce our own meat and dairy consumption, we can call on businesses and large corporations to do the same. Pledge today!

Feedback Global volunteers gleaning pumpkins and squash; Photo credit: Chris King


Catalog Choice
Where? United States

Focus: Catalog Choice is a free service that can help you put a stop to unwanted catalogs and other junk mail. As a program of the nonprofit Story of Stuff Project, Catalog Choice is proud to have helped over two million users reduce clutter, simplify life, and divert thousands of tons of paper waste. With over 9,000 titles in their database, they can help anyone with a US mailing address reach mailbox bliss.

On zero waste: "Junk mail isn't just an annoyance; it's a big business with a costly environmental impact. The average American receives over 40 pounds of junk mail each year, consuming vast quantities of wood and water while producing as much CO2 as nine million cars. Much of that junk mail gets tossed aside without even being opened, and only half of it gets recycled. Unlike other streams of waste that are easier to avoid, junk mail shows up at peoples' houses whether they want it or not – all to sell us more stuff we don't need. That's why using Catalog Choice to stop junk mail altogether is such a great step on the path to zero waste. Whether you're using Catalog Choice at your home, in the office, or to help an elderly parent avoid fraud and other malicious offers, stopping junk mail helps people and the planet."

Check out: This holiday season, give the gift of an empty mailbox! Invite friends and family to bring their junk mail to an "opt-out party," and use Catalog Choice to cancel all those unwanted catalogs and other offers in one fell swoop. To create a free account and submit your first junk mail opt-out, visit here!


The Green Project
Where? New Orleans, LA

Focus: Serving New Orleans since 1994, the Green Project's mission is to promote a culture of creative reuse by diverting usable materials from landfills and cultivating a respect for their value. Our mission is executed through four main pathways: Salvage Store, Paint Recycling Center, Environmental Education and Community Workshops.

On zero waste: "By reclaiming usable materials and reselling them at an affordable price, we give the community access to products they couldn't otherwise afford to buy new. At the Green Project, you can find doors, windows, lumber, light fixtures, paint, plumbing supplies and more at a fraction of the cost. This empowers small business owners, contractors, artists, and hobbyists to shop sustainably at our storefront. Some community members come to us purely out of environmental consciousness and we are able to provide them with the materials, tools and knowledge needed to build tiny homes, compost bins, garden beds and more. But, many shop with us out of financial necessity. We believe that equity and the environment go hand in hand. We work to educate our community about the link between shopping used, recycling materials, affordability and equitable economies."

Check out: The Green Project recently opened a MakerSpace that gives community members access to open workspace and tools, free of charge. The idea is to close the loop between affordable materials and expensive tools residents are not able to purchase on their own. It fosters a community of sharing and in 2019, The Green Project hopes to open a full-fledged Tool Lending Library that allows people to take tools home.

Photo credit: The Green Project


Rising Sun Energy Center
Where? California

Focus: Rising Sun Energy Center's mission is to empower individuals to achieve environmental and economic sustainability for themselves and their communities

On zero waste: "We believe everyone should have equal access to economic opportunity, live in a healthy environment, and experience social equity. We advance this vision through local solutions that help boost incomes and increase sustainability. Our innovative youth program employs low-income youth, provides them with training, support, and professional development. Additionally, it puts them to work serving the community and the environment by providing thousands of community residents with free energy and water saving services and conservation education each year. Through our Green House Call service, the youth swap out inefficient light bulbs for LEDs, install smart power strips and faucet aerators, and more. All of these valuable efficiency products are provided at no cost and save residents money while reducing their consumption of scarce resources."

Check out: In the Oakland area on January 30th, 2019? Join Rising Sun from 4 to 7 p.m. to celebrate the launch of Rising Sun's new brand! Play games, enjoy delicious foods, drink local brews, and show off your dance moves in their new Oakland space. RSVP here!

Jaclyn McCarthy