While many people recognize the environmental benefits of recycling and composting, much of the stuff in our trash cans is not currently recyclable or compostable. What can we do about this stuff? By following the 5 R’s of Waste Reduction we can do much to reduce our waste. The following are some additional ideas on how you can change your shopping habits to reduce waste and increase recycling.
Many items we might purchase may be borrowed from a neighbor, checked out from the library, rented, or leased. Try following the old adage ‘Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.‘ There are also a wide variety of resources which provide creative ways to reuse things to replace things we might otherwise purchase, or to give our purchases another life.
Make a List, Stick to It, & Combine Trips
This is a good way to avoid impulse buying which can lead to waste, while saving time and/or gasoline.
Shop at Home First
You can keep our local economy healthy just by consciously choosing to Shop at Home, buying from locally owned stores. If you don’t see what you need, ask if the store can order it for you. The more we shop out of the area, the fewer services remain available locally, and the more we force ourselves to shop out of the area.
Shop Without Travelling
If something you need is not available locally, try shopping on the world wide web or by catalog mail order. You can make sure you only get the catalogs you want by following the tips on Reducing Junk Mail.
Consider the Lifecycle Impacts of Your Choices
As we use each new product in our lives, we share the responsibility for the environmental impacts of that product as it was created: as the raw materials were extracted, processed and manufactured. We also share in the impacts of producing the energy necessary to make and use the product, and to collect once it is discarded. Finally, we share in the impacts as the product as we used it, then recycled, composted, burned, disposed or dumped it.
Let Manufacturers Know What You Think
Let the manufacturer know what you think about their product and package. Most products will have the manufacturer’s phone number and/or address on the label. When you express your opinion on the durability, toxicity, or recyclability of their product or package, they will assume that you represent hundreds of people who had the same thought, but didn’t call. So simply by complaining when a manufacturer changes to an unrecyclable package or commending a company which makes a non-toxic alternative to a hazardous product, you can have a big influence on the market. You can also join groups which work on these issues, like the California Product Stewardship Council or Californians Against Waste.
By educating ourselves and taking these responsibilities seriously, we can reduce our personal impacts on the planet while improving our quality of life. Follow these tips to reduce these impacts:
- If the product has a warning label saying ‘Flammable,’ ‘Harmful if Swallowed,’ ‘Poisonous,’ or ‘Keep Out of Reach of Children’ it is a hazardous material. Take some extra time to see if there is a non-hazardous alternative.
- Choose reusable, compostable, returnable, and repairable products over disposable ones.
- When possible, choose products made from recycled materials.
- Make sure the packaging is recyclable in Del Norte.
Understand What Package Labels Can Tell You
Below are some of the terms producers will use to label their more earth-friendly products and packages, and what they mean for you.
Unfortunately, just because the package says it is recyclable does not mean that you can actually recycle it in Del Norte. Some people think that if they put such a product in the trash, it somehow gets recycled, but that is not true. Click here for more information on recycling in Del Norte County.
This package is made from a combination of post-industrial and post-consumer materials.
This package contains some portion of materials actually collected from recycling programs like the ones in Del Norte, from people like you.
CA Redemption Value
These beverage containers packages have deposits which you pay at the grocery store, and can collect at Julindra Recycling.