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As proclaimed recently by Mayor John Engen, Wednesday marks the first day of Moving Missoula Toward Zero Waste Month.

The month of educational events and community outreach to raise local awareness about waste is being supported and celebrated by a new coalition of Missoula businesses, nonprofits and individuals called Zero Waste Missoula.

The members of Zero Waste Missoula believe that waste is a significant and untapped resource, and that the community can substantially reduce the amount it sends to the landfill through education, engagement of local business leaders, and leadership from citizens and local government.

“Missoula already has a lot of momentum toward zero waste,” said local artist Scot Herries, who often works with reclaimed materials. “Every day I see people doing the right thing to avoid waste by using businesses like EKO Compost, Home ReSource, Donation Warehouse, Secret Seconds and more. Zero waste sounds ambitious, but I believe most Missoulians don't like waste and don’t like seeing that could be used again things go in the garbage, so I think we should go for it.”

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The Zero Waste Missoula coalition has its roots in the community-generated Missoula Climate Initiative. A top priority from the coalition's initial meeting was for Missoula to adopt a zero-waste resolution that sets reuse, composting, recycling, other waste-as-resource and business incubation benchmarks. Coalition members include representatives from Providence St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula College, Home ReSource, U.S. Forest Service and Sustainable Business Council, as well as several local small business owners.

“Zero waste is like the north star. It's a long way off, but it gives us direction,” said Katie Deuel, executive director at Home ReSource. “A zero-waste resolution is all about making it easier to reuse, repurpose and recycle items so that we keep resources in the local economy. That way we all win."

More information about Zero Waste Missoula is available at missoulaclimate.org/zero-waste.html.

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