Rethinking is the first step in the Zero Waste Hierarchy, because only by rethinking current processes, policies, and actions, we can start to change.

Rethinking means looking at current processes, policies, and actions, and finding ways to improve those systems to reduce waste.


  • Design and purchase products from reused, recycled or sustainably-harvested renewable, non-toxic materials to be durable, repairable, reusable, fully recyclable or compostable, and easily disassembled
  • Shift funds and financial incentives to support a circular economy over the harvesting and use of virgin natural resources
  • Enact new incentives for cyclical use of materials, and disincentives for wasting
  • Facilitate change in how end users’ needs are met from “ownership” of goods to “shared” goods and provision of services
  • Support and expand systems where product manufacturing considers the full life-cycle of their product in a way that follows the Zero Waste Hierarchy and moves towards more sustainable products and processes. Producers take back their products and packaging in a system that follows the Zero Waste Hierarchy
  • Identify and phase out materials that cause problems for closed loop systems
  • Facilitate and implement policies and systems to encourage and support local economies
  • Re-consider purchasing needs and look for alternatives to product ownership
  • Provide information to allow for informed decision-making
  • Be aware of and discourage systems that drive needless consumption

Guiding Questions

  • What has led us to our present linear use of materials and thus, what needs to evolve to move towards a closed loop model?
  • How do we re-design systems to avoid needless and/or wasteful consumption?