The goal of zero waste is to recycle, reuse or compost nearly all of the materials we use in our daily activities, so that we don’t send it to landfills or garbage burning facilities. Waste sent to landfills is either left for eternity or, if it can biodegrade and decompose it creates greenhouse gasses. Burning garbage releases greenhouse gasses and toxins into our atmosphere. Recycling conserves fossil fuels and composting our organic waste, not only reduces our carbon impact, but creates rich topsoil for use in our gardens and with our plants.
Learn what is recyclable, compostable, and reusable below:
What is Recyclable?
Plastics, metals, glass and paper are the most commonly recycled items, but electronics, batteries, light bulbs, and other material can also be recycled. The New York City Department of Sanitation has two helpful recycling guides. Click here for paper and here for plastic/metal/glass. Electronics and batteries are also recyclable and should not be thrown out because they contain toxic heavy metals. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) contain mercury and need to be properly recycled. If your waste collector does not collect the item you are looking to recycle, find.
What is Compostable?
Organic waste from your home or yard can often be composted. If you are unsure if an item is compostable, check the EPA’s guidelines on compostable materials. There are various techniques for setting up an effective home composting system. Items that are not compostable in a home composting setup, like meats and dairy, may be compostable in a commercial composting facility. Because of the much greater quantity of compost received, commercial composting sites can reach core temperatures hot enough to safely digest materials otherwise unsafe to compost.
What is Reusable?
Replacing plastic or paper bags with tote bags or backpacks when shopping, and using reusable water bottles instead of buying disposable plastic bottles are easy ways to save money and resources. Be creative in your reuse but keep in mind sanitation – certain items, like disposable plastic drinking bottles, should not be reused as they provide fertile breeding grounds for unsavory bacteria.
Support A Zero Waste Initiative in Your Community
A number of municipalities across the country have already made the zero waste pledge, from San Francisco to Nantucket, MA. The City of Poughkeepsie is the closest community to the Catskills to adopt a zero waste pledge.
If you would like to participate in moving your town towards zero waste, please let us know!