Film Screening: Racing To Zero


Sustainable Long Island’s Film Screening Series

Racing To Zero

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 | 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Alumni House – Main Room | Adelphi University

154 Cambridge Street, Garden City, NY 11530

Hosted by The Center for Health Innovation

racing to zero
On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, inside the Alumni House – Main Room at Adelphi University, Sustainable Long Island presented an exclusive screening of Racing To Zero – a quick-moving, upbeat documentary presenting new solutions to the global problem of waste. By simply substituting the word RESOURCE for the word GARBAGE, a culture can be transformed and a new wealth of industries can emerge.
At the event nearly 100 attendees enjoyed a pre-film reception which aimed for zero waste itself. Napkins, cups, even tea stirrers were compostable; glasses, plates, and utensils were re-washed and re-used; and all food and general waste was collected, separated, and brought to a local compost facility as the night ended.
A Question + Answer session took place after the film led by Emily Kang, PhD, of Adelphi University. Joining her were panelists Bernadette Martin from LI Green Market, Tom Stack, RA LEED AP from D’Addario & Company, and John G. Waffenschmidt from Covanta. The panel participated in an engaging discussion focusing on some of the keys to a successful waste reduction program and recycling program, as well as the short term and long term strategies for improvement in decreasing local waste. Some of the points highlighted included:
  • Zero waste strategies also integrate a balance of education, technical and financial assistance, and infrastructure investments.
  • When done correctly, discarded materials are a local resource that can contribute to local revenue, job creation, business expansion, and the local economic base. It’s not what waste is, it’s what waste can become.
  • Recycling a ton of paper saves 17 trees, two barrels of oil (enough to run the average car for 1,260 miles), 4,100 kilowatts of energy (enough power for the average home for six months), 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space and 60 pounds of air pollution.
  • Many towns, schools and organizations now use single stream recycling, or zero-sort waste to deal with their recyclables. This vastly increases the ease with which people can recycle – in addition, single-stream recycling usually accepts a greater variety of products.  Other tools to boost recycling include banning the pickup of recyclables in the trash, or charging for pickup of trash, while keeping recycling free.
  • The average US. Household generates 650 lbs. of compostable materials each year. Over 60 percent of what we put in our landfills is organic waste, such as food scraps. Yard trimmings, and paper, much of which could be recycled by composting. Composting saves money. Families reduce their garbage collection bills and municipalities save money on transporting and disposing of waste when organic materials are eliminated from the collection system. Compost improves soil, adds important nutrients for plants, and reduces the need for expensive commercial fertilizers.

Three years ago, the mayor of San Francisco pledged to achieve zero waste by 2020. Racing to Zero tracks San Francisco’s waste stream diversion tactics and presents innovative new solutions to waste. The film documented a surprising, engaging and inspiring race to zero.



Zero waste is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies to protect the climate.

“Trash. Garbage. Junk.” These are words we commonly call the things we throw away. But in San Francisco they have a completely different perspective. They see “waste” as “resources,” materials that can always be recycled and turned into new things. They give purpose to the stuff most people may see as otherwise useless. Dedicated to protecting the environment, they’re aiming to make the city 100% waste free by 2020. It sounds like a daunting goal, but as this film reveals, they’re surprisingly close to doing so.

Now, you may wonder how exciting can a documentary on trash be? The short answer is very. The city’s passion for going green is unbelievably contagious. For everyone from the mayor, to those who work in the field, to the citizens – the idea of ensuring everything can be reused has reached a collective fever pitch. Their mission has given them a sense of pride that’s overwhelmingly inspiring. The innovative methods and programs displayed in Racing To Zero provide a blueprint for change that can hopefully be applied to all of America.


Thank you to our sponsors:



ca rich



Ron Shiffman

Miriam K. Deitsch, Ph.D




Ann and Len Axinn

Robert and Susan Bernard

Janet Fernandez CPA



Sidney Bowne Group

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