Report on "Getting To Zero Waste" May 2013 Symposium, Part I

This blog is a quick review of things learned at the Interfaith Environmental Network symposium of May 7, 2013, “Getting to Zero (Waste) – with Bob Gedert.” See some of our promotion about that symposium here

Mr. David Hogan, an outstanding member of the Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin’s Energy Action Team, and a leading activist from the Central Texas Zero Waste Alliance, approached us about doing a symposium with Bob Gedert on Austin’s Zero Waste plan earlier this year. We were pleased David could bring all of this together. 


David Hogan

Mr. Hogan introduced the evening by sharing a brief on what “Zero Waste” means. There’s more to it than not having trash anymore, he says. Specifically, a zero waste municipality maintains and improves an ongoing efforts to meet the Zero Waste Hierarchy. In the “hierarchy,” disposal is a last resort and efforts to increase materials reuse takes top priority. 

1 waste hierarchy

In explaining what zero waste means, David referenced the eco-effective vision of achieving a cradle to cradle waste system, wherein technology and industry strive to imitate nature, making “waste = food” at every opportunity. David highlighted the defining criteria of the Zero Waste International Alliance (, founded 2003:

  • Recover all resources for reuse
  • Promote product design that enables deconstruction, reuse, and recycling
  • Eliminate toxins and harmful discharges from waste/reuse cycle

Some benefits of a zero waste municipality highlighted by Mr. Hogan: 

  • Conserves resources
  • Reduces emissions of a product over its lifecycle
  • Creates growth in a “clean” job sector

Nationwide, America is currently recycling about 32% of its waste. Austin is doing a little better, on track to achieve about 40% waste reuse in 2013. David also proposed that waste reuse is “a moral issue” and that houses of worship can lead by setting an example, inspiring individual action, and facilitating zero waste activities. 

2 HOWs can help


David Hogan’s slides:

Austin Zero Waste Masterplan:

Related activities for congregations:


Central Texas Zero Waste Alliance:

IEN’s Energy Action Team:

Part Two coming soon!

© 2013 Interfaith Environmental Network