Has there been any practical investigations into potential resources to make colonisation as waste less as possible?

Obviously I don't expect colonisers to be throwing crisp packets on the floor or tucking empty Starbucks cups into small crevasses in the structures.

Has there been investigation into the biodegradability of potential colonisation materials to ensure minimum corruption or contamination of the target landing area?

For example in the resources used to build, or package, the materials used for construction or delivery of said materials. I presume this would be important because it would be a bad start to land on a planet and have to start a rubbish dump on day 1!

  • $\begingroup$ Great question. I think the only reason being eco-friendly isn't as good as it should be (here) is because we're used to it. If the mind set were changed from day 1 half the battle would be won. $\endgroup$ – Robert English Oct 31 '13 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ Note that in a colony, organic matter is a limited commodity so anything and everything biodegradable must be fed back into the system. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 31 '13 at 23:33

I don't expect there's been 'investigation into the biodegradability of potential colonisation materials' because I haven't seen serious colonisation plans yet. There's a lot of research going on into biodegradability, but that's all for use on Earth. Every place you could colonise has its own environment, so you'd have to know where the colony will be to do any useful research.
Also, biodegradation isn't the only way to reduce environmental impact. Reuse is another, and probably much easier to achieve for many of the materials we will need for colonisation (metals, for instance).
Biodegradation depends on there being a biosphere, and we're a long way away from being able to create one on e.g. Mars.

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