Like all its public events, Eldorado/285 Recycles' Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast celebration at La Plancha de Eldorado restaurant will be a "zero waste" event. This means no paper plates, no plastic utensils, and if you bring your own mug you get a dollar off to help encourage the "pack it in/pack it out mentality" that group member Stephanie Levy says is a key part of shifting people's habits towards sustainability rather than convenience.

Indeed, our overly convenient throw-away culture has led to overflowing landfills and oceans drowning in plastic. Levy says part of the solution has to be a shift in mindset toward trying to reuse things whenever possible and recycle or compost the rest.

Sound hard? Well, it is, at least at first, Levy tells SFR, mostly because it just requires people to be more intentional about the way we live our daily lives.

"It can definitely take a while to get on board and fully commit yourself. And for public events, it takes really careful planning, and there's just always another little thing that you didn't think about," she says, telling SFR that last year's little thing turned out to be the plastic wrappers of hard candies being handed out at an event. "But we will have to choose to do this both as individuals and as a society if we want to truly achieve a sustainable future for the planet. It's also just how many things were done until not too long ago. Systems like milk delivery that reuse the bottles, and that's essentially zero waste."

Around the country, many cities such as Boulder, Colorado, and San Francisco have begun to adopt zero waste policies and resolutions that call for public composting services for all residents and 100% recycling programs for public buildings, among other things.

Santa Fe isn't quite there yet, but exploring possible zero waste policies for the city is one of the goals outlined in the Sustainable Santa Fe 25 Year Plan. The targets include providing universal recycling to all residents and customers within the city, achieving an average residential recycling rate of over 90%, creating policies that make recycling a requirement for all city offices and all events on city property, reduce demolition waste and create a "resource recovery park" where all kinds of reusable objects could be exchanged. Even more ambitious goals include creating a "green purchasing policy" to encourage city departments and businesses to make minimal-waste purchases whenever possible, reducing the amount of trash created along the supply line of a product or service.

These ambitious goals may take a while to put into practice, but in the meantime, Eldorado/285 Recycles is already ahead of the game. The volunteer-run organization is well on its way to achieving a goal of installing 200 straw bale compost bins at Eldorado residences before 2020, each of which will divert at least 500 pounds of green waste from landfills. Group members are also working on an initiative to start a reuse center for the exchange of reusable objects at the Eldorado Transfer Station.

And with events like the Fourth of July pancake breakfast, they show the rest of us that zero waste is not as hard as we might think.

The event is a fundraiser for the organization and will offer activities for kids.

July Fourth Pancake Breakfast: A Zero Waste Event

7:30-9:30 am Thursday July 4. $7 ($6 if you bring a mug). La Plancha de Eldorado, 7 Caliente Road, 466-2060.