Work on Waste (WOW)
Work on Waste is a project that began in the 1980s when AEHSP's Executive Director, Paul Connett, joined the succesful battle to stop a trash incinerator from being built in St. Lawrence County, New York. Because of Paul's qualifications (at the time he was teaching chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY) he was invited to help many other communities battling incinerators. Under Paul’s leadership, WOW helped community groups stop over 300 trash incinerators being built in North America between 1985 and 1995.
No incinerator was built in the US or Canada between 1995 and 2010. During the demise of this industry in North America Paul has helped communities fight incinerators in other countries (60 in all) as well as push for safer and more sustainable alternatives, including composting, recycling, reuse, repair and re-design. Since 1996 these alternatives have been merged into a strategy for avoiding both landfills and incinerators called Zero Waste.
Paul’s most extensive work on waste outside the US has occurred in Italy. Since 1996 he has visited Italy 60 times and spoken there in more than 200 cities. In 2012, Paul with two Italian co-authors (Rossano Ercolini and Patrizia Lo Sciuto) published a book (in Italian) entitled Zero Waste: A Revolution in Progress (Dissensi, Viareggio, Italy). A greatly expanded and updated version of this book has since been published in English, with a foreword by Jeremy Irons, entitled The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time (Chelsea Green, White River Junction, 2013).
With renewed efforts to build incinerators in North America, Paul is currently helping communities pursue Zero Waste as a concrete stepping stone towards sustainability. In January and May of 2011 he was invited to give presentations before the UN Commission on Sustainability in NYC. Ralph Nader once said of Paul Connett that he was one of the few people he knew “who could make waste interesting!”