2017 New Year’s Resolution: Strive for Zero Waste
The average person generates 4.4 pounds of waste each day. Make it your 2017 New Year’s Resolution to reduce the amount of waste you generate (USEPA) and pledge to reuse, repair, recycle and compost as many materials as you can before throwing them away. Here are a few ways to make this resolution achievable in Minneapolis:
Reduce waste and build community by taking advantage of local reuse and repair options.
Do-it-yourselfers should consider joining the MN Tool Library The tool library has over 2,500 tools to check out, from screwdrivers, circular saws and air compressors, to extension ladders and lawn tools. Instead of buying new, expensive tools that sit and gather dust after your project, reduce your footprint by renting them from the tool library. Not only does this save space in your basement or garage, but is also reduces energy and resources needed to produce the tool in the first place.
Families with growing children can significantly reduce their footprint by joining the Minneapolis Toy Library. The toy library has many toys for children up to age 5 and offers a space for kids to play and build community while browsing for toys. Kids grow up and get sick of toys quickly, participating in the toy library provides families with a way to have a variety of toys without the clutter of all of the toys they no longer play with around the house.
Don’t give up on your favorite old lamp or trusty toaster before bringing them to a Hennepin County Fix-It Clinic. There’s a Fix-It Clinic scheduled every month where you can seek assistance in fixing and even be taught how to troubleshoot and fix your favorite household items.
Save your money and reduce energy and water needed to grow food by reducing the amount of food you waste. Food is the most prevalent material in Minneapolis trash by far, representing 19 percent of the trash by weight (Source: Hennepin County 2016 Waste Sort). Steps you can take to reduce wasting food include using up all of the food that you buy, practicing meal planning, understanding the date labels on food, and properly storing your food. Learn more at www.savethefood.com
Support the reuse market and spur economic development by purchasing items secondhand and donating your used items to give them a second life. A 2011 report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) found that Minnesota’s reuse sector directly employs almost 46,000 employees and generates at least $4 billion in gross sales annually. Minneapolis and the surrounding metro have a strong reuse market, including a new electronics resale store Tech Dump, and used building material stores including Habitat for Humanity RestoreBetter Futures Minnesota. The new ReUSE Minnesota online directory can help you find where to donate, rent, repair, or sell items for reuse and where you can purchase items secondhand.
Bring reusable items with you when you shop.
Bring your own bag to the grocery store and your own mug to the coffee shop. Minneapolis’ “Bring Your Own Bag” ordinance will take effect in June 2017 prohibiting the distribution of single-use plastic bags in retail establishments and adding a $.05 fee for any paper or ‘reusable’ plastic bags given at the point of sale. Bringing your own reusable items reduces waste and saves energy from production of disposable items. Did you know that Minnesota Health Code allows you to bring in your own Tupperware for leftovers at restaurants?
Hennepin County’s 2016 waste sort found that Minneapolis residents are doing a great job keeping recyclables out of the trash for the most part, but that there is still room to improve the amount of paper and cardboard that gets recycled. Remember that mail, office and school papers, magazine and catalogs, newspapers, cardboard boxes, cereal and cracker boxes, shoe boxes, and boxes from toiletries are all recyclable.
Continue to recycle items that can’t be recycled in your curbside recycling cart, like plastic bags, small appliances and CFL light bulbs. Plastic bags can be brought to participating grocery stores for recycling or to one of Hennepin County’s Drop-Off Facilities. Hennepin’s Facilities also take a wide array of other items such as CD and DVD cases, small appliances, batteries, CFL bulbs, and more. Try keeping a box in your basement for these drop-off type recyclables and bring them to one of Hennepin’s Facilities once or twice a year.
Participate in Minneapolis’ organics recycling program. Organic materials, which include food and compostable paper, make up about one-quarter of our trash (Source: Hennepin County 2016 Waste Sort) and represent the biggest opportunity to reduce our trash. Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling customers can sign up for a curbside organics recycling cart at no cost, and large apartment dwellers who don’t have access to curbside composting can bring organics to one of seven drop-off sites in Minneapolis.
Sign up for Recycling Reminders
Make sure you don’t miss your recycling pick-up day, and read up on the latest recycling and organics tips when you subscribe to Minneapolis’ Recycling Reminders an email sent to you every other week reminding you that your recycling day is tomorrow, seasonal service reminders, recycling do’s and don’ts, and more. (Note: this service only works for those who have Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling collection services.)
Last but not least, if you aren’t sure what to do with an item, check the City’s What to do List for disposal options or call Solid Waste & Recycling at 612-673-2917.
Last updated Aug 1, 2018