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The Broomfielder

Reduce Your Household’s Waste

Oct 31, 2019 02:00PM
Reduce Your Household’s Waste
By Elizabeth Buckingham

The statistics are staggering: our landfills will be full in fewer than 20 years, less than 10% of all recycling is actually recycled, and China no longer accepts our trash. There is an island of floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean, twice the size of Texas. Whales, turtles, seabirds, and other marine life die repeatedly with plastic waste in their stomachs. Our planet simply cannot continue to absorb trash like this: we must reduce the amount of waste we produce.

The good news: it’s not as challenging as you think to reduce your household’s waste stream. Taking a few minutes to really look at your family’s trash will show you exactly where your waste is coming from, and how you can cut back.
 
The easiest way we can reduce our waste is by not creating it in the first place. Before you accept that free pen, branded drink koozie or cheap party favor, ask yourself if you really want that to be your problem. Refuse to purchase products sold in needless packaging, like apples in plastic trays. Don’t buy anything packaged in Styrofoam, which isn’t recyclable.
 
Most of our planet’s waste problems come in the form of single-use plastic, which typically can’t be recycled. Two million single-use plastic bags are thrown out each minute, and this is an area where it’s easy to do better. Keep reusable shopping bags next to your door and in your car. Small packable bags are perfect for your purse or backpack. Refuse plastic bags whenever they’re offered.

Sixteen billion disposable coffee cups are used each year; the waxy coating means these can’t be recycled. Less than 1% of all plastic water bottles are actually recycled. Keep a nice coffee mug handy, and invest in a durable water bottle. Make yourself a to-go kit with a reusable plate, napkin and cutlery to use at the office or when getting takeaway. Many companies are phasing out single-use plastic drinking straws; there are plenty of washable metal and plastic straws available now, perfect for adding to your picnic kit.

Forty percent of all edible food produced is thrown out uneaten; buying processed and packaged food adds a lot of stress to our overburdened landfills. Meal prep kits create a huge amount of waste, most of it unrecyclable. Buy fresh food and cook and eat at home, and be mindful of the amount of food your household is throwing out. Start a compost pile for food scraps and yard waste; much of our landfill space is taken up with organic matter that could easily be composted.

50,000 mattresses are thrown out each day in the U.S. Before impulsively buying something new, think about whether you actually need it and consider its end-of-life – how will you dispose of it? Certain local facilities accept hard-to-recycle items like appliances and mattresses, but you’ll need to do your research.
 
The City and County of Broomfield has operated the Broomfield Recycling Center (BRC) since 1998.  Lesa Julian, Broomfield’s Environmental Services Superintendent, says, “The Center is available to residents for recycling cardboard, plastic, metal, and glass containers, office paper, newspaper, books, shoes, and textiles. The City offers several other programs including Spring Cleanup, an annual event that gives residents an opportunity to dispose of large, non-hazardous items that trash haulers do not normally pick up. We also offer hazardous waste disposal, tree limb recycling, waste oil and cooking oil recycling, paper shredding and electronic waste recycling events throughout the year.”
 
Julian shared some additional tips for Broomfield residents looking to take care of the planet: “Keep all landfill-bound trash in bagged containers so it does not blow away and end up as litter in our parks and open spaces. Conserve water by using a smart sprinkler controller and high-efficiency appliances in your home. Plant a garden that attracts pollinators. Never overuse fertilizers or herbicides, which end up in the waterways as runoff. Don't let car oil or soap spill into the street and flow to the storm drain. Convert your yard from turf grass into xeriscape. Plant native trees and flowers that thrive in our soil and climate.”
 
The best news of all is that being a better global citizen means less clutter in your home, less junk crowding our landfills, and more money in your pocket. Small choices do make a difference, and it’s essential that we all start caring more about our planet. For more information on the city’s recycling programs, visit www.broomfield.org.