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Is Zero Waste Attainable?

Transition Mill Valley hosts an event tonight in Tam Valley focused on waste – how it affects us and what we can do about it – featuring a slate of local residents who’ve been focused on the issue for years.

Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste lifestyle and message has taken her far and wide, from spotlights by the New York Times and the to presentations at corporations and elementary schools.

At an event called tonight in Tam Valley, Johnson she gets a chance to speak directly to her hometown community about her family’s lifestyle, why they believe in it, how they pull it off and how you can join them.

For Johnson, it’s all about adding an R on either end of the traditional three-R environmental mantra of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Refuse what you don’t need and Rot (compost) what’s left when you’re done with the three Rs in the middle.

“I really love to talk about the five Rs,” Johnson says. “It’s the key to understanding what it takes to get to Zero Waste.”

Johnson, who is also a , is part of a panel at tonight’s event, organized by Transition Mill Valley and the , that also includes a quartet of local residents at the forefront of getting to Zero Waste.

They include Carrie Bachelder, founder of the Away Station, a Reuse-focused marketplace in Fairfax; Andy Peri, a founding member of the environmental organization Green Sangha and one of the first advocates for Zero waste in Marin; and Richard Lang and Judith Selby-Lang, the local artists who have gathered plastic debris from Kehoe Beach at Point Reyes and created a swarm of acclaimed art projects from them.

Each speaker will talk about their respective work, and Peri will lead a panel discussion and Q&A session on the subject of waste, its place in our culture, the effects of plastics on the environment and ways to reduce waste at home.

“They want to hear how we can adapt to Zero Waste,” Johnson says of the organizers. “What is it that we do exactly, and what kind of response we’ve gotten in doing it. I hope people are excited to find out more.”

Throughout Marin, the campaign is more than just talk. The Marin Hazardous and Solid Waste Management Joint Powers Authority (JPA) has established a goal of achieving 80 percent waste reduction in the next five years and zero disposal by 2025. 

Can we pull it off?

The 411: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Tam Valley Community Center, 203 Marin Ave. $10 suggested donation

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