Maximize Your Recycling Efforts and go for Zero Waste
Celebrate Earth Day Every Day: Top 10 Steps You Can Take to
Maximize Recycling and Go for Zero Waste
In honor of Earth Day, Eco-Cycle is helping Boulder County residents reach two important goals: 1) Maximize our community’s recycling opportunities, and 2) Go beyond recycling to build a sustainable, Zero Waste community.
“Recycling benefits our economy and our environment; it creates more jobs than trash, reduces the need for landfills, prevents pollution, saves energy, decreases greenhouse gas emissions and conserves natural resources,” said Eric Lombardi, Eco-Cycle’s Executive Director. “To make our community sustainable we need to first maximize all the many opportunities our community has to recycle. Then we need to go beyond recycling to Zero Waste.”
We have a wide variety of community programs in Boulder County that can help us recover up to 90% of our waste!
>> Top 5 Ways to Maximize Recycling in Boulder County
1) Know your single-stream recycling guidelines
Did you know you can now recycle screw-top plastic caps by attaching them to empty plastic bottles? Make sure you’re recovering everything you can by downloading curbside single-stream recycling guidelines at www.ecocycle.org/recycle-compost-reuse (see green sidebar) and posting them in your home or workplace. Stay up to speed on the latest guideline changes by signing up for our recycling updates e-newsletter. It includes alerts for special seasonal collections, like wrapping paper during the holiday season!
If you're outside Boulder County: Learn your local recycling guidelines by checking in with your recycling hauler.
2) Learn the 12 worst recycling contaminants and take a tour of the recycling center
Learn the Dirty Dozen worst recycling contaminants at www.ecocycle.org/dirtydozen and help keep these materials out of the single-stream recycling bin so we can prevent costly contamination. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for weekly recycling tips, and check out our contamination videos on our YouTube Channel: EcoCycleMedia.
Taking a tour of the Boulder County Recycling Center 1) is pretty fun and 2) helps explain how these contaminants cause problems.
3) Recycle unusual and hard-to-recycle materials at the CHaRM, including the newest item: small plastic appliances
Did you know you can recycle old electronics, ripped or stained clothing, plastic bags, bubble wrap, cooking oil, bicycles, yoga mats, scrap metal and now small plastic appliances (like busted hair dryers and coffee makers) at the Eco-Cycle/City of Boulder CHaRM (Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials)? This 10-year-old facility is the first of its kind in the nation! Find full CHaRM guidelines for the whole list of unusual items. Fees may apply.
Don't live around in or around Boulder County? Find recycling centers at Earth911.com.
4) Recycle everything from Appliances to Zippers with our A-Z Recycling Guide
If it’s recyclable in Boulder County, you’ll find out where through this drop-down guide found on the upper right corner of www.ecocycle.org. Don't live in Boulder County? Check out Earth911.com.
5) Don’t trash household hazardous waste
Items like motor oil, paint, automotive products, pesticides and solvents can contaminate groundwater when landfilled. Residents and small businesses can recover these materials the safe way, free of charge, through the Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility (HMMF) in Boulder. If you're outside Boulder County, look for local household hazardous waste programs.
>> Top 5 Ways to Go Beyond Recycling for Zero Waste
Recycling is critical, but it’s not the whole solution. Did you know that for every 1 can of trash you see at the curb, 87 cans worth of resources were used to make those products through resource extraction, transportation and manufacturing? We need to go beyond recycling to prevent that waste, resource destruction and pollution, and to combat climate change. We need Zero Waste—a system and set of actions that help us redesign products for reuse and recovery, make products with the smallest waste and energy footprint, and recover up to 90% of our waste.
Here are our top 5 actions to go beyond recycling and toward Zero Waste:
6) Take the I Choose to Reuse 30-Day Challenge and join our campaign to help businesses Choose to Reuse!
Choosing to reuse bags, water bottles, and to-go mugs and containers can make a big impact on your waste footprint. Learn more about these eco-scourges and how to avoid them in our annual magazine, the Eco-Cycle Guide, online at www.ecocycle.org/ecocycleguide. And check out all the reuse options in Boulder County with our “Tour de Thrift” map.
7) Stop Junk Mail
Each year, 100 million trees are cut down to make junk mail. The production and disposal of that junk mail consumes more energy than 3 million cars. You can make it stop with Eco-Cycle’s mail preference service, free for Boulder County residents and businesses: Stop Junk Mail for Good. Eco-Cycle is sponsoring this award-winning service to prevent waste in our community, and it’s working: Boulder County residents and businesses have already opted out of 33,390 mailings! You can too at www.ecocycle.org/junkmail.
8) Be Straw Free
In the U.S. alone, 500 million plastic straws are used EVERY DAY. To help our community prevent this waste (and save the petroleum used to make straws), Eco-Cycle partnered with 11-year-old Milo Cress of Longmont to help him promote a campaign he started at the age of nine: Be Straw Free. His campaign encourages consumers to say “no thanks” to straws and asks business/restaurant owners to adopt an Offer First Policy with straws, something the National Restaurant Association has already endorsed! Take the pledge to go “strawless” and donate to Milo’s campaign (and upcoming international speaking tour!) at www.ecocycle.org/bestrawfree.
9) Make your parties Zero Waste
Parties and events can create an enormous amount of waste due to the non-recyclable single-use plastic or plastic-coated plates, cups and utensils that often “attend.” Skip single-use all together by renting reusable tableware from a local party company, or check out Eco-Cycle’s 100% compostable Zero Waste Party Kit for 25 - 200 people. Going formal this holiday season? Check out our Eco-Celebrations service for elegant “green tie” events including weddings and corporate events.
10) Compost your food scraps and yard waste
Compost helps build healthy soils, something we desperately need in Colorado. It also helps combat climate change: Biodegradable materials like paper, food and yard waste break down without oxygen in a landfill and release methane, a greenhouse gas with 72 times the heat-trapping power of CO2! Find curbside composting guidelines, backyard composting tips, and vermicomposting how-tos for those who live in small spaces or in bear country at www.ecocycle.org/compost. Search for composting facilities nation-wide at www.findacomposter.com.