Waste

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Waste has traditionally been studied only in isolation. For example, we might think of recycling first or remembering to not litter. However, waste should involve looking at the entire product chain of a given material — from consumption to use to disposal. Remember to this motto in mind: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink.

Reduce

Reduce your waste + consumption with these reusable products and helpful tips!

  • Reusable bag

    Avoid using single-use disposable bags and bring your own reusable bag when shopping. Also, you can further eliminate food packaging waste by buying items in bulk.

  • Reusable coffee filters

    Try reusable coffee filters and rinse after each use. Cusp Natural Products is made from help, a rapidly renewable resource. These can last for years!

  • Reusable Straws

    Americans throw away 500,000 straws each day. Moxie glass company offers a reusable stainless steel drinking straw and it will last a lifetime!

  • Reusable snack bags

    Help kids pack a zero-waste lunch! Ditch the disposable sandwich baggies and snack smart with food-safe LunchSkins’ reusable sandwich bags. They are also free of lead, BPA, and phthalates.

Reuse

Recycle

In the landmark treatise on green product design Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough and Michael Braungart wrote:

“When plastics other than those found in soda and water bottles are recycled, they are mixed with different plastics to produce a hybrid of lower quality, which is then molded into something amorphous and cheap, such as a park bench or a speed bump… Aluminum is another valuable but constantly downcycled material. The typical soda can consists of two kinds of aluminum: the walls are composed of aluminum, manganese alloy with some magnesium, plus coatings and paint, while the harder top is aluminum magnesium alloy. In conventional recycling these materials are melted together, resulting in a weaker—and less useful—product.” (Cradle to Cradle, 56-57)

Composting

Learn about how composting works, building a compost bin, and what is safe to add!

Recycling Facts

Learn about the importance of recycling, facts, water, energy, lighting, uses, and more!

Rethink

  • Solar light bulbs light up poor communities

    In Mania, Philippines – a local entrepreneur has taken advantage of a concept designed by students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A soda bottle, sunlight, purified water, and chlorine/bleach are used to create powerful light sources (55 watts) in poor, urban areas with no electricity.

  • Reverse vending machines pay out in new ways

    Reverse vending machines are being placed around various universities. These allow students to see just how many kilowatts of energy they saved by recycling and getting money back as student ID cash or transferred to a PayPal account. Students also get the option to donate the extra coins to charities (Nature Conservancy, Fisher House Foundation, Relay for Life).

  • Earthbenches

    The Peace on Earthbench Movement (POEM) empowers youth and community members to clean up the environment, re-purpose their trash into building material, learn natural building techniques, and create a communal gathering area- an earthbench- where they can share music, stores, and life experiences.