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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

Zero Waste Initiatives: Taking Root Around Indy

Apr 02, 2019 05:38PM ● By Jenn Willhite

Zero waste initiatives are taking root across Indianapolis area as schools, businesses, events and organizations are taking steps to limit the negative impact food waste has on the community and environment. The intent is to prevent wasteful and polluting practices in an effort to lessen pollution and promote growth in the local economy.

The zero waste system is a cyclical approach to resource management from product design to disposal, according to By taking mindful steps to limit waste, it’s easier for the community to conserve dwindling natural resources, such as petroleum, minerals, and even fresh drinking water.

Students at Noble Crossing Elementary, in Noblesville, are taking proactive steps to make their school’s cafeteria zero waste.

The school began participating in the Food Rescue Project last year. This year, fourth grade students have formed a group known as the Food Rescue Warriors that track the food items in the cafeteria and track data on the environmental impact.

Students are reporting they are becoming more conscious about food waste. They realize tossing out excess food products and waste create more work for school staff and the natural resources required for food production. Simply put, students are more cognizant of the negative impact food waste has on the environment and wildlife, and they’re hoping their example inspires other young people to make a difference.

As zero waste initiatives take root in area schools, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) kicked off their sustainability initiatives in April 2018 with the debut of the Indianapolis Sustainability Summit. The summit highlighted the positive impact of collaborative efforts in advancing sustainability on campus, as well as in the Indianapolis community. Attendees learned about steps they can take to help support community resilience, sustainable business practices and the impact eco-based mindful practices have on the environment.

Indy’s VegFest this spring is just one of several area events that has also adopted a zero waste approach to have a positive environmental impact.

Individuals can also incorporate zero waste into their every day routines as well. Simple steps can make all the difference and a larger impact than one might expect.

There are several ways the individual can also make a positive impact.

Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Replace harsh chemical cleaners with eco-friendly ones.
  • Ditch the plastic and opt for glass or stainless steel containers for food storage.
  • Use cloth instead of paper towels for quick messes—especially in the kitchen.
  • Replace that kitchen sponge for a natural brush, which won’t collect bacteria.
  • Shop local farmers’ markets for locally grown produce and veggies.
  • Compost household food waste.
  • Nix the junk mail and opt to sign up for a “do not send” list.
  • Create a zero waste kit for everyday activities, such as a reusable bag for shopping and a reusable mug and water bottle.
  • Make grocery shopping trips as package-free as possible and try to get everything in one trip.
  • Further, limit trips to the store by shopping in bulk.

For more information about zero waste, visit, and

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