Waste management is a hot topic in the environmental world. From proposed bills to make producers pay for the disposal of packaging to the rising popularity of zero-waste establishments, our throw-away culture is under fire and for good reason! While supporting bills and establishments whose values match our own is vital in making progress toward zero-waste, there are lots of steps we can take in our own lives to make a meaningful difference.
To reduce our waste overall, doesn’t it make the most sense to just have less to waste? By buying less “stuff,” bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, and saying no to single-use plastics, to name just a few waste reduction strategies, we end up with less stuff being thrown in a landfill. That means less fossil fuels used for transportation of our waste, fewer greenhouse gases emitted at the landfill, and less energy and raw materials used overall. The impacts of reducing are HUGE!
We also can reuse items – meaning that when the life of an item is “over,” we find another use for it. We can patch our jackets, repurpose items, shop at a secondhand stores, have clothing swaps, and spend time finding a creative use for things we otherwise might send to the trash.
After we’ve reduced and reused as much as possible, then it’s time to recycle and compost! When it comes to recycling, it’s so important that we pay attention to what our municipality accepts. “Wish-cycling,” tossing questionably recyclable items in the recycling bin, hoping they can be recycled, can actually cause an entire load of good recyclables to become contaminated trash, meaning that the whole load ends up at a landfill anyway!
Check out your town’s recycling resources so that you’re clear on what you can and can’t recycle.