Other Worlds

Toward Zero Waste: Waste Pickers Running Biogas Plants in Mumbai, India

December 14, 2012


By Virali Gokaldas and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Mumbai’s rapid growth, high density, and sheer size present significant challenges for its waste management system. The enormous quantity of waste generated in the city makes large-scale, technologically driven “solutions” tempting. However, the opposite approach—a highly decentralized, people-powered model of waste management—has proven successful. Dry waste is separated out for recycling while organic waste, Mumbai’s largest and heaviest waste stream, is treated close to its source through composting pits and biogas. This approach has reduced the need for costly transportation and landfill space while providing green jobs for waste pickers.

Vegetable Waste to Zero Waste in La Pintana, Chile

December 7, 2012

By Cecilia Allen and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

The Chilean community of La Pintana has found that recycling the largest segment of their waste – fruits, vegetables, and yard clippings – can save them money, produce valuable compost, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program cost very little to initiate and is already making a substantial contribution to the community’s financial and environmental sustainability.


December 4, 2012

By Beverly Bell
December 10, 2012

Larry Cohen has headed the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America (CWA), under the banner of “Fight Back,” since 2005. Prior to that, he headed up CWA organizing for twenty years. He is also founder of Jobs with Justice.

Given the path we’ve been on in this country, the American dream is in tatters. Whether it’s a voice on the job or our standard of living or health care or education, all are being destroyed on our watch. But we can stand up and fight back. Not only through the kind of spontaneous movement that people saw with Occupy, but a more sustained and broad-based movement that can work for constitutional change as well as protect people’s houses; secure, sustainable jobs; health care; our retirement, whether it’s social security or pensions; and on and on.

Harvesting Justice: Transforming Food, Land, and Agricultural Systems in the Americas

December 3, 2012


We know you care about what you eat, how it was produced, and who was harmed or who benefited in the process. Everywhere, people like you are reclaiming the food system from multinational agribusiness and putting it back in the hands of small farmers, low-income families, farmworkers, guardians of Native culture, and health-conscious communities. Read about these efforts in Other Worlds’ new 140-page book, Harvesting Justice: Transforming Food, Land, and Agricultural Alternatives in the Americas. The result of five years of research and interviews from throughout the hemisphere, the book describes strategies to win food justice and food sovereignty. An appendix and popular education curriculum offer hundreds of concrete ways to learn more and get involved.


Zero Waste, from Dream to Reality in the Philippines

November 30, 2012

By Anne Larracas and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

The city of Alaminos is pioneering zero waste in the Philippines with an energetic fusion of bottom-up planning and community participation. Under a new law, the public and all levels of government share responsibility for managing waste. Villages, local officials, and non-profit allies are working together to meet the law’s goals. They have created composting systems and sorting facilities, and almost eliminated open burning and dumping as a result. The outcome has been stunning: whereas in 2009 almost every city dumping field had a pile burning, there were almost none two years later. With sky-high waste separation and composting rates, Alaminos has become a trend-setter for other Filipino cities.

A Message to Occupy Sandy from New Orleans And Haiti

November 29, 2012

Cross-posted from Occupy Wall Street.

By Beverly Bell

As a native New Orleanian and as someone who has lived and worked in Haiti off and on for more than three decades –since the earthquake, mostly on– I offer some recommendations on catastrophe aid and solidarity. The suggestions come from my own experience and observations, as well as critiques from communities in Haiti and New Orleans about their experiences after their epic disasters.

On the Environmental Frontlines: Waste Pickers

November 26, 2012

By Neil Tangri and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Over the last 20 years, waste pickers— workers in the informal economy who recover recyclable materials from trash—in Pune, a city in the state of Maharashtra, India have transformed both their city’s municipal waste management system and their own lives. The waste pickers formed a union to protect their rights and bring dignity to their work. The union has been so successful that it has allowed the women and men to implement door-to-door collection of garbage segregated where it is created (e.g., home, business) and to separately treat organics. Moreover, waste pickers have been able to improve their livelihoods and working conditions.

Door-to-Door Collection Reduces Waste in Hernani, Spain

November 18, 2012

By Cecilia Allen

Facing a nearly full landfill in 2002, Spain’s Gipuzkoa Province proposed building two new incinerators. Citizen opposition was immediate and widespread. In response, some municipalities in the Province decided not only to reject the incinerator plan, but to implement an alternative to burying and burning. Usurbil was the first. This town of 6,000 people established a door to-door collection system of source-separated waste streams, including organic materials. In just six weeks, the amount of collected waste destined for landfills dropped by 80 percent. The resource recovery rate registered in the first year was 82 percent. In 2008, before door-to-door collection started, Usurbil was taking 175 tons per month to the landfill. One year later, the amount had dropped to 25 tons.

San Francisco: Zero Waste by 2020

November 2, 2012

By Virali Gokaldas and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Part 2 of "Environmental Possibilities: Zero Waste"

East Coast residents have spent the last few days surveying storm damage, calculating how long it might take for water-clogged coastal towns to drain, and waiting half-days in gas lines before returning to cold and darkened homes. Meanwhile, more than 8,000 displaced by last week's cyclones in Chennai scrape together the basics of survival, Manila residents clean up from torrential August floods, and Beijing re-evaluates city infrastructure after July's deadly typhoon. The message is clear: climate change is real, and it’s serious. One way cities can significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help prevent the escalation of global warming is by implementing zero waste practices.

“Environmental Possibilities: Zero Waste” features new ways of thinking, acting, and shaping government policy that are circling the globe. Each week, we highlight a success story in the zero waste movement, excerpted from the report On the Road to Zero Waste: Successes and Lessons from Around the World by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). GAIA is a powerful worldwide alliance of more than 650 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. Their collective goal is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. Other Worlds is excited to promote the work of GAIA and the organized communities it works with, and hopes that the stories inspire you and others to begin moving your home, town or city, nation, and planet toward zero waste.


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