I always wanted to engage in activities that reduce our environmental impact and help our communities at the same time. This volunteer program fits this bill perfectly for me. I also feel like I learned quite a bit by understanding the City’s programs, touring the Recycle/Reuse center, etc.
I have found that direct interaction is the best - I attend neighborhood events and answer questions related to recycling/composting/reusing and how the City supports these activities. I also found that posting news/tips on neighborhood social sites (mailing list, Facebook groups, Nextdoor) on a regular basis is helpful. I have received several e-mails thanking me for sending these messages.
All of them are important to me, but the reduce mandate should always come first and I feel that there are so much waste could be avoided with a little bit of effort. I see way too many examples of disposable items that could easily be replaced with items that can be reused for the same purpose over and over again. Also, we are all under a constant barrage of advertisements, sales promotions that encourage buying more and more without considering the impact on our environment.
One sore point for me is that milk cartons are not recyclable in this area. (It is indeed possible to recycle them - see recyclecartons.com).
It is in my nature to look for ways to march toward the zero waste goal. I don’t see this as a burden, but I see this as an obligation to future generations. I hope that sharing information on reducing, reusing, recycling with neighbors on a regular basis will also encourage them to follow more zero waste related practices.
We need consider alternatives to one-time use materials and try to replace them with items that can be used for the same purpose over and over again. For example, do we really need to buy rolls of paper towels when you could just use an absorbent soft cloth that can be washed. The City has provided a great example by banning plastic bags at grocery stores.
Product packaging is by far the largest portion in our recycle bin.
I try to reuse them if possible (for example, I cut up old bubble mailers as fillers when I ship packages) or find a better home for them if this is possible.
My children are old enough that they understand the importance of the three R-s. We teach them how to sort our waste for recycling/composting as well as discuss reusing / repurposing items that we already have. For example, instead of throwing out some leftover 2x4 lumber, we made a footstool with my son. Also, we talk about how we can reduce our environmental impact. We also encourage them to participate in related activities in school. For example, Brigitta was Watt Watcher at the school - a program where students help reduce electricity use at schools by turning off lights or unused equipment.