A message from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality:
Since holiday celebrations and the New Year are rapidly approaching, most of us make an effort to keep a New Year’s resolution or two. Whether we try to save money, lose weight, or quit certain habits, one habit worth breaking is throwing away items that can be reused or recycled. This is the first step to take to go zero waste this winter.
Every year, landfills take on more and more things we no longer want or need. In fact, in 2015, Texans added about 33.5 million tons of stuff to our landfills. That’s more than six-and-a-half pounds of trash per Texan per day! If recent trends continue, that number will have increased this year. At this rate, we only have enough landfill space to last another 56 years. Then we will have to decide where the next one will go – and no one wants that in their backyard.
Take Care of Texas offers these tips to help you go zero waste this winter:
- Use – and reuse – gift bags or decorative gift boxes, since most gift wrap can’t be recycled in the blue bins.
- Serve meals on reusable plates with cloth napkins, and compost the appropriate food scraps. Check with your local community garden to see if they accept scraps if you don’t compost at home.
- Buy only the products you need, and use up the products you buy before throwing them out. When you do need something new, look for products made from or packaged in recycled materials.
- Purchase refurbished electronics – these items are often just returns that have nothing wrong with them. The average household has approximately 28 electronic devices (and plenty more hiding out in the backs of drawers). Many old electronics can be sold, donated, or recycled.
- Rechargeable batteries are everywhere, and the technology has significantly improved in recent years. Most can now be recharged up to 1,000 times! When they no longer hold a charge, recycle them instead of tossing them in the trash where they can pose a threat to groundwater. Your local home improvement store may offer recycling for rechargeable batteries.
- People receive more than 80 billion pieces of junk mail each year, and most of it ends up in landfills. Opt out of unwanted catalogs, pre-screened credit, and insurance offers. This will save you clutter and time sorting through all of it. Remember to recycle that junk mail you still receive, and consider reusing holiday cards in craft projects instead of tossing them in the trash.