The five r's of zero waste
Waste is inevitably the by-product of a functioning society, and Bloomington is no different.
Yet, at the end of its short lifetime, waste has to go somewhere and many of us don’t like to think about the harm our contribution creates. As a result, the City of Bloomington and Sustainability Commission are striving to change the behavior commonly associated with organics, textiles, and one-use items, and create a sustainable future free of overflowing landfills.
Many of us are already familiar with the facts, now let’s not waste any time waiting to do something about it.
Simplify your life by reducing your consumption. An easy way to do this is cleaning out your closet every year and donating your reusable items. You can also reduce your need to buy more products in the long-run by making sure to purchase quality products that won’t wear out easily and remembering clean your products regularly.
Helpful hint! Make a list of what you need before going shopping and stick to it!
Reusing and repairing go hand-in-hand with zero waste. Shop local consignment stores to find products that are just as good as store-bought items, but less expensive than retail. If you discover or own something that’s an easy fix, find a seamstress, technician or friend who can repair and prevent it from going into the landfill or incinerator.
Helpful hint! Hennepin County offers monthly Fix-It Clinic gatherings at participating locations. Similar to a Repair Café, Fix-It Clinic offers free repairs and learning skills for small household items courtesy of their local volunteers. Find out where and when the next upcoming gathering is taking place!
Standard, but still necessary to address! Recycling is the easiest way to conserve natural resources, prevent pollution, and reduce materials from going to the incinerator. You can even “upcycle” items into something creative out of used household items. There’s plenty of inspiration to be found online!
Helpful hint! Did you know that the number (1 through 7) on a product’s recycling sign identifies its recyclability? Try avoiding number 6 plastics (like Styrofoam) and number 7 plastics (known as the “miscellaneous” of plastics) because they are difficult to recycle and can be harmful to human health. Find out more about which recyclables are accepted in the area with the Hennepin County Green Disposal Guide.
Learn to say no to clutter (especially single-use plastic)! Sometimes it's difficult to decline freebie promotions, disposable coffee cups, plastic straws, produce wrapped in plastic, and even junk mail, but in the long-run you will find that less waste will inevitably end up thrown into the landfill or incinerator. You start by investing in items with multiple uses like a reusable water bottle!
Helpful hint! In 2014, 4.05 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were generated while only .50 million tons were actually recycled. If you’re not repurposing your plastic bags, remember to recycle them (if they're clean and dry) at any major grocery store or at the South Hennepin Drop-Off Center in Bloomington. Better yet - refuse plastic grocery bags altogether when you’re out shopping by bringing your own!
It is estimated that 30 percent of our everyday garbage is organic material, and has the potential to be composted instead taking up space in the waste stream and releasing greenhouse gases. In effort to meet sustainability standards, Bloomington successfully opened an organics drop-off site in April 2018 that has remained free and open to anyone!
Helpful hint! You can create your own compost pile at home! Follow the Hennepin County's composting guide for more information on what can be composted and how to get started.
To see what the Sustainability Commission is doing to tackle many of the solid waste issues in Bloomington, please see their Sustainability Work Plan.