Municipal Actions

(1) Your top priority should be passing a recycling transparency ordinance. See LEGISLATION section for a draft municipal recycling transparency ordinance.

(2) Maximize your Drop Off Centers. You can take as many items, as you have room and markets for. The center I used in Arkansas took dozens of different items, with a separate bin for each type recyclable. You can get paid for sorted, clean recycling, unlike mixed, messy recycling. If done well, your drop off center can be a place of community pride and hands-on, continuing waste reduction education.

(3) Use Pay As You Throw (PAYT) for garbage collection. With utilities you are charged for the amount you use. With PAYT you’re charged for the volume of trash you generate. Some communities provide different size trash cans. You’re charged by the size trash can you use. Some communities sell PAYT garbage bags, and you’re charged by the bag, on the front end, when you purchase them.

(4) Minimize curbside recycling collection. Heavy truck traffic wears on residential streets, costing taxpayers money for street repair. Also, truck capacity is limited. Beware of large, private companies, especially those offering cheaper rates and the moon. You can lose control of your recyclables and transparency. Next comes the surprise rate increase.


Notice that the worker lifts only light loads, and only waist high.


(5) If you must do curbside recycling, make sure the truck has separate compartments for each type recyclable. To reduce strain on workers you’ll need hydraulic lifts for each trough. See video.

(6) To save taxpayer dollars, you’ll want to franchise, so you can minimize heavy truck traffic on your residential streets. There should not be more than one garbage truck and/or one recycle truck per week per street. Also, if you franchise, you can avoid creating a monopoly-like situation, the situation that has created the current messes in recycling.

Individual & Group Actions

(1) Instead of practicing waste DIversion, practice waste AVersion. Look at the RESOURCE section for ideas. Zero Waste USA puts on a good annual conference and offers classes.


(2) Constantly assess your purchases and ask, “Is there is an alternative to this throw-away item?” Switching from flimsy plastic shopping bags to sturdy reusables one is an easy first step.


(3) Constantly ask yourself, “Is there is an alternative to this recyclable item?” Though it uses less energy than production of virgin materials, recycling is energy intensive and should come after reduction, reuse, repair, restore, etc.


(4) If you really care about the world we are going to leave the next generation you need to start a monthly study group and keep talkin’ trash ‘til there is no more. You need to find sources you can trust because there’s been a lot of dishonesty in recycling.


(5) Share a trash can with your neighbor, so the garbage truck makes fewer stops. This helps reduce greenhouse gas, and your carbon footprint.


(6) Compost your food scraps and try to buy only what you are going to eat, so you generate less food waste.

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