2015-09-18 / Community

Sustainable SoPo

How do you reduce waste?

The more waste we recycle, the closer we will come to achieving our goal of increasing South Portland’s recycling rate from 29 percent to 35 percent by 2017 and 40 percent by 2019. And while recycling is an excellent way to reduce the amount of waste that South Portland pays to send to the incinerator or landfill, we need to also reduce waste in the first place; find ways to use less and make our lives and our city more sustainable.

Top 10 ways to reduce waste

 Bring reusable bags and containers when shopping, traveling or packing lunches and leftovers.

 Choose products that are returnable, reusable or refillable over single-use items.

 Avoid individually wrapped items, snack packs and single-serve containers. Buy large containers of items or from bulk bins whenever practical.

 Be aware of double-packaging. Some bulk packages are just individually wrapped items packaged yet again and sold as a bulk item.

 Purchase items such as dish soap and laundry detergents in concentrated forms.

 Compost food scraps and yard waste. About 40 percent of what gets thrown away in Maine could be composted. Many types of food scraps, along with leaves and yard trimmings, can be combined in your backyard compost bin.

 Reduce the amount of unwanted junk mail you receive. The average resident in America receives more than 30 pounds of junk mail per year.

 Shop at second-hand stores. You can find great used and unused clothes at low cost to you and the environment. Buy quality clothing that won’t wear out and can be handed down, whether to other people you know or to a thrift store.

 Buy items made of recycled content and use and reuse them as much as you can. For instance, use both sides of every page of a notebook before moving on to the next clean notebook. Use unneeded, printed on printer paper for a scratch pad.

 Also, remember that buying in bulk rather than individual packages will save you lots of money and reduce waste. Packaging makes up 30 percent of the weight and 50 percent of trash by volume. Buy juice, snacks and other lunch items in bulk and use those reusable containers each day.

Credit for the above list goes to Rethink Recycling. Check out their excellent website: http://www.rethinkrecycling.com/residents/reduce.

South Portland Energy and Recycling Committee meets the third Wednesday of each month at the South Portland Community Center. Meetings start at 6:30 p.m. and are open to the public.

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