Reuse/Reduce/Recycle is a fail-safe way to minimize the amount of waste your household creates. Reusing items is an especially powerful way to reduce your impact on landfills and the environment. If environmental impacts are not enough, buying gently-used or reusing the items already in your home can potentially save you a lot of money!
Before you begin
Think about how much trash you throw out every week. How many 30 gallon trash bags is it? 30, 60, 90, 120 gallons of trash per week?! Take moment to do a mental inventory of what you’re throwing away, how much of that could be put into the categories of paper, plastics, aluminum or food? More than likely, it would be a significant portion. These types of "trash" are some of the easiest to start recycling right away!
Check out estate, garage & yard sales "“ I have found some really cool pieces of furniture and kitschy items by checking out second-hand sales that were posted in my local newspaper, grocery store community boards, or on Craigslist. It’s also a great way to get to know people in your own community!
- Buy used furniture, or just re-upholster your old stuff "“ It takes a lot of new resources to create a new piece of furniture. New furniture means cutting down more trees and more pollutants associated with production and transportation. Check out your local thrift store for gently used furniture that can be re-upholstered to fit your home! You can even make a fun Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project out of your current furniture; use eco-friendly paints and fabrics to change up wood pieces, or toss a few pillows onto your couch to create a fresh look!
- Make recycling easy! – Buy a trash bin that has separate compartments for recycling. Recycling at home is easier when our main trash bin is already separated into the necessary recycling categories of paper, plastic and aluminum. If you can, buy a recycling bin that is already separated into these categories. But wait! What should you do with the leftover food "waste"?
- Consider composting! – The foods you throw away on a daily basis are perfect for creating compost. Compost is rich in nutrients and can be used in flower or food gardens, and you can feel confident that you know the source of your soil!
For further reading:
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by Willian McDonough "“ A book that challenges why we manufacture items for built-in obsolescence (and ultimately for the landfill.) It offers a unique way of thinking.
Suggested web links:
Reuse and recyling opportunities in Fredericksburg
Recycling options in Kerr County, including a weekly arrangement for recycling batteries, electronics such as TV’s, and small appliances.
Earth 911 has comprehensive information about recycling in general, recyclers, recycling news, and tips.
www.diyupholsteryfabric.com has a lot of great suggestions for getting started with upholstering!
www.newcommunityproject.org has an interesting section on how to reduce the usages of paper! Check out their "seas and trees" section
www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/video/blog/2008/11/worlds_oceans_face_plastic_pol.html has a powerful 10 minute video from a recent PBS News Hour report on the Pacific Garbage Patch, a trash dump, possibly twice the size of Texas
Read here about creative ways for minimizing glass waste.
Contributed by Andrea Lewis | Master of Urban Planning and Policy Candidate | 5/14/2009 and most recently updated by John Watson on 10/21/2009 and 4/5/2012