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Systems Thinking Beyond Waste

SUMMARY:  How can we apply systems thinking to reduce or eliminate waste? Washington's citizens, businesses and governments have all made big improvements in our waste management practices but we still throw away valuable recyclables and other resources. Wasting these resources is not sustainable in the long term. Reducing wastes and toxics has many benefits. It saves money for consumers, local governments and businesses. It conserves natural resources, and protects our health and the environment. As we reduce wastes and toxics, we help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect Washington waters from toxics in storm water runoff, two key priorities for our state. Reducing wastes and the use of toxic chemicals is the smartest, cheapest, and healthiest approach to waste management. It’s all connected. 

BIO: Candy Castellanos is a Section Manager for the Waste 2 Resources program with the WA State Department of Ecology.  As a community leader and passionate environmental educator, Candy is also involved in local community organizations, including Zero Waste Washington, Washington Green Schools, the Pacific Northwest Social Marketing Association and the Solid Waste Association of North America. She is currently the Vice President for the Washington State Recycling Association. Candy's passion for waste diversion started at an early age - in 8th grade she organized the first recycling program at her middle school in California, and launched the school district’s first Earth Club.

Links for Learning More:  

1.Beyond Waste: Washington State’s Waste Reduction Plan for managing hazardous and solid waste. This 30-year plan has a clear and simple goal: eliminate wastes and toxics whenever we can and use the remaining wastes as resources. This will contribute to economic, social, and environmental health. Avoiding wastes and the use of toxic chemicals is the smartest, cheapest, and healthiest approach to waste management. The Beyond Waste Plan shifts from a reactive approach, focusing on management and clean-up, to a proactive approach, with an emphasis on preventing waste in the first place.

2.A Way With Waste - Washington State Department of Ecology: A K-12 curriculum framework with extended resource pages. These lessons were crafted years ago but the ideas and structure are still a great foundation for developing lessons.

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