By Sheree Stubblefield

If hanging out with the Cooper-Young Community Association is your thing, you may have noticed us throwing around the term Zero Waste. In fact, I just published an article on it in the Lamplighter, our free community newspaper. But what is it and why does it matter? And why do we need your help? Well keep reading to get those questions answered along with five ways you can help us with our goal of being Zero Waste by 2020. We can’t do any of it without you!

So, to address the elephant in the room. What the H, E, double hockey sticks is Zero Waste anyway? Well, according to, it is, “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.” What that basically means is doing anything possible to avoid landfills and/or pollution to the environment.

Why does it matter to the CYCA and why should it matter to you?

Here at the CYCA, the future of the Cooper-Young community is something that is always top of mind. We enjoy the neighborhood now and we want future generations to continue to be able to enjoy it. While the zero waste movement may seem a bit extreme now, it will have nothing but a positive impact on our future. We have an inkling the same thing that matters to us, matters to you! We all care about the future of our neighborhood and the impact it has on Memphis at large.

When you look at everything you own, it can seem impossible but a few tweaks can go a long way. Specifically, this post will focus on helping the CYCA become Zero Waste but you can implement these strategies in your personal life. Some people may look at you a little crazy but hey, you’re ahead of your time! Read on to learn more!

Bring your own cups, bags, etc to our events

We love, love, love hosting events and bringing neighbors together. However, our events are a huge source of waste for us. That’s why we now provide compostable material as well as recyclable material at our events. But you know what’s even better? Reusable items! Help us by bringing your own glass to non-restaurant events and your own bag to shopping events. And please, don’t ask for straws! Are we forgetting something? Let us know!

Utilize the labeled bags and bins we provide

We know it’s hard to remember what item goes in what bin when you’re having fun but it’s the small things that make the big things happen so please use the labeled bins correctly. This will become more important as we host our larger events such as the CY 4 Miler and the CY Beer Fest. If you have questions, ask us! If we don’t know the answer, we will be sure to find it. Remember, this only this works is if  we work together.

Join our Livability Committee

You heard that right! We have a committee that is committed (see what I did there?) to thinking up creative ways to do this zero waste thing. We only meet about once a month and you get to meet other environmentalists like yourself and pat yourself on the back for your civic service. This is also an easy way to learn tips for your own zero waste journey. By joining us, we also get your feedback on ideas. Trust me, we can’t think of everything. Your contribution will benefit us all.

Be in it with us for the long haul.

Change takes time. So don’t give up if you accidentally bring home styrofoam or forget to recycle something or unplug your lamp. This is about progress not perfection. Urge CY restaurants to get Project Green Fork Certified, let us know if we could do something better, help us encourage neighbors to recycle and compost. There’s a reason why we’re making this a goal for 2019 and rather than one month. There will be some mistakes and missteps along the way. Be patient with us and we pinky swear not to disappoint.

Share your personal journey and share ours

Maybe you’ve heard the old adage, “A rising tide raises all ships.” That’s where you come in. You’ll see us sharing our journey on our social media channels and at our events. Share our posts. Tag us and let us know what you’re doing. Let us know what you have learned. Remind your friends and followers of our goal. As stated above this is a journey and we want to be on it with you!

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