It’s a new year — the perfect time to reflect on our sustainability goals and refresh our recycling habits.
This year, especially for Snohomish County residents, the recycling experts at Waste Management are offering 20 recycling resolutions to help reduce waste and clean up recycling. Are you ready to commit to better recycling habits in 2020? Here’s how you can do it:
Compost your Christmas tree. After your tree has fulfilled its holiday duty inside your home, Waste Management will help you compost it. Through Jan. 17, you can leave your whole (up to 6 feet tall), unflocked, undecorated Christmas tree next to your curbside cart for pick up as part of your regular curbside service. If you miss the special collection dates, you may chop your Christmas tree into 3-foot sections and place inside your yard waste bin. Just remember, all tinsel must be removed first.
Go bagless. Plastic bags damage equipment and cause safety hazards at recycling facilities. If you collect your recyclables in a bag, empty them directly into your cart and reuse the bag. Find a drop off location to recycle plastic film at www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.
Keep tanglers out of the recycling. Christmas lights, garland, ribbons and clothing can easily get tangled around sorting equipment at recycling facilities, damaging it and posing safety hazards. Reduce, reuse and donate these items when possible. Don’t put them in your curbside recycling cart.
Keep recycling clean. Food and liquids damage recyclables and can contaminate an entire load, preventing it from being recycled. Empty all liquids and give your containers a quick rinse before tossing them in the recycling cart.
Keep curbside lids closed. When materials like paper and cardboard get wet, they break down and can’t be recycled. Closing the lid is an easy way to protect your recyclables from the elements.
Recycle plastics by shape. Focus on shapes when deciding which plastic items go in the recycling cart. Plastic bottles and jugs are acceptable in your cart and will be made into new products.
When in doubt, find out. When you aren’t sure if something is recyclable, don’t just toss it in the bin. Look it up online at www.wmnorthwest.com/snohomishcounty. If you still aren’t sure, it’s better to put it in the garbage to avoid contaminating other recyclables.
Spread the word. Post recycling guides at home near recycling bins to remind family and friends what goes where. Get printable guides and collection calendars at www.wmnorthwest.com/snohomishcounty.
Reduce food waste. Wasted food is one of the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Do the planet (and your wallet!) a favor. Buy carefully and use up everything you buy.
Give away what you can’t use. Thrift stores will accept and repurpose old shoes, furniture, dishes, linens and toys. You also can connect with your neighbors via online networks such as Craigslist, Next Door, OfferUp or Buy Nothing Facebook groups. These online communities are set up so you can give or sell belongings to neighbors. They are excellent waste-reduction tools and also an uplifting reminder of human generosity.
Go paperless. Reduce paper waste by selecting email statements from your bank, credit card and other accounts.
Compost your food scraps. Any food scraps that can’t be eaten should go in the food and yard waste cart or your compost pile. Composting food scraps allows them to cycle back to the Earth as nutrient-rich soil naturally and helps conserve natural resources.
Say no to single-use. When you go out, remember to bring your reusable shopping bag, water bottle, coffee cup and straw.
Get creative with waste reduction around the house. Try eliminating paper towels in favor of reusable rags and dish towels.
Drop off packing material at specialized recyclers. Materials such as Styrofoam and bubble wrap aren’t accepted in your curbside cart, but some organizations accept them for drop off. A quick online search will show locations near you.
Go green at work. Become a Green Business by reducing waste and increasing recycling. For resources on how to start a green team at your office, check out www.wmnorthwest.com/educational/greenbusinesses.htm.
Help your school go green. It’s crucial to develop sustainable habits at a young age. Is your child’s school a Green School? Find out how you can support the younger generation here at www.wagreenschools.org.
Learn more about what happens after the truck picks up your cart. You can start by taking a virtual tour of a recycling center here: www.wmnorthwest.com/guidelines/videos/crc2.htm
Attend a Fix it Fair or Repair Cafe event. Have a ripped piece of clothing or broken appliance? Rather than throwing it out, bring it to one of these events and have it repaired. More at www.extension.wsu.edu/snohomish/naturalresources/sustainable-community-stewards/repair-cafe.
Keep recycling. Because it matters.
Here’s to recycling right in 2020!
Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. To see what’s recyclable in Snohomish County, go to www.wmnorthwest.com/snohomishcounty.