Waste Disposal

 

Ever go shopping and come home and realize that more than 50% of what you just purchased is packaging, and almost all of it will end up in your trash can?


Scenario 1: You break out the carving knife to extract your new scissors. After ten minutes struggling with the NASA-grade packaging you finally separate it from the scissors and throw the unidentifiable material in the trash.  Unfortunately, it takes up so much space in the can that you have to take out the trash before you can throw anything else away.

Scenario 2:  As you roll out your garbage can on Sunday night you notice all of the stuff you bought that week that you are now getting rid of.  Before you close the lid, you think about the money you spend to have your garbage hauled away. You realize you end up paying for materials you don’t even want 2x – once at the cash register, and again with your quarterly garbage bills!

The buck doesn’t stop there!  Costs continue to accrue as landfills reach capacity and have to be closed. Then our waste has to be hauled further and further away. Long-haul garbage trucks and trains belch CO2 and diesel exhaust as they make their away across the state and its borders.  Old landfills leach toxic materials and contaminate waterways and aquifers. This is a huge, collective expense just for us to have the ability to take resources, mix them up and then bury them in large pits for future generations to deal with.  

We need to close the loop and eliminate the concept of waste! Everything we make should be recoverable, recyclable, or biodegradable. Think that’s crazy talk? We’re already seeing innovative alternatives to mainstream products such as roofs, office chairs, carpeting, paint, and batteries.



No Brainers
  • See if your garbage company collects food scraps and other organics for composting.
  • Recycle ALL recyclables (see visual).
  • Bring reusable bags to the grocery store – avoid plastic bags.
  • Bring a reusable mug to the coffee shop – avoid Styrofoam.
  • Use a reusable water bottle – avoid bottled water.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a disposal system – main examples:  dental floss, prescription drugs, toxic cleaning products & rags.
  • Buy items made from recycled and recyclable materials.
  • Buy items that last.
 
A Little More Time
  • Take hazardous waste to drop-off locations (paint, batteries, electronics…).
  • Talk to managers of favorite restaurants who are still using Styrofoam for takeout.
  • If your work doesn’t have a good recycling system, get involved in making one or improving the one you have.
  • Before you head out to buy that shiny new (insert item here) see if you can get it used – check out Craigslist, ebay, weekend yard sales, then head to the consignment shops.
 
Reasonable Investments
  • If you’re in the market for a new printer buy an Energy Star printer with a double-sided printing option.
  • Recycled ink cartridges (Actually, these are often cheaper than new ink cartridges).
  • Buy USB batteries that can be recharged on computers.
 
Full on Treehugger
Call/send letters to major businesses about inefficient packaging and use of Styrofoam.