As we near Earth Day, it seems appropriate to reaffirm Cowork Frederick’s commitment to sustainability. Most of us are familiar with the oft-cited “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra. Frederick County has added a fourth “R”: Reject, as in reject the things you know you can’t reuse or recycle. It’s implied in “reduce”, but we like that it’s called out specifically. We’ve borrowed quite a bit of what follows from the Frederick County Waste Management website pages on recycling and thank them for doing such a good job of documenting some pretty important stuff.
It’s a fact of life—everyone produces waste. But like many other everyday occurrences, the rate of waste production has increased dramatically in the past few decades. The average American generated 2.68 pounds of trash per day in 1960. By 2010 the average had increased to 4.43 pounds of trash generated per person each and every day. Combine this trend with factors such as our growing United States population, urban sprawl and an increasingly consumer-based economy and suddenly there’s just too much trash.
You Can’t Just Throw Things Away – There is no “Away”
In the past it may have seemed simple to just throw things away, but it’s getting harder to figure out where “away” is. In Frederick County the landfill is filling up, so the majority of our waste is trucked out of state to other landfills. This system is costly, inefficient and unsustainable.
What You Can Do. What We Will Do.
This is not something that can be solved solely by government or industry action or by technology. There is much each individual can and should do to use resources wisely. Recycling is good; it diverts resources that would otherwise be wasted. But even the “green” process of recycling has a carbon footprint, creates emissions and relies on valuable resources like fuel, money and time. We must come together as a community – right now – to create less waste in the first place!
So, here are those nifty alliterative “R’s” to help you remember. Cowork Frederick is committed to them. How about you?
Reject – Avoid things you don’t need and products that are not sustainable, such as: Styrofoam®, single use/disposable items, goods with excessive packaging and toxic materials. Remember, what is “convenient” now may become waste forever.
Reduce – Take advantage of services that reduce the junk mail you receive. Buy items in bulk (less packaging). Look for energy-efficient, long lasting appliances and electronics. Inventory your kitchen goods, use what you have and avoid wasting foods (the average American household tosses over 30% of produce purchased). Buy locally grown food and produced products. You’ll reduce the fuel used in bringing those goods to you and support the local economy (a doubly good thing!)
Reuse – Recognize the value of durable, reusable goods instead of disposable items. Use tote bags for shopping. Get an electric razor. Use cloths instead of paper towels and disinfecting wipes. When possible, carry, use and refill a reusable bottle. Invest in rechargeable batteries. Look for recycled-content products, such as office paper and tissues. Shop for used-but-good products and donate your old items to resale organizations.
Then Recycle – Look at what’s left of your waste and recycle those materials that are accepted in Frederick County’s program.
Let’s make Every Day Earth Day.
Got you thinking? Check out these links for more ideas:
Better World Books collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. Shipping is free, whether you are selling or donating books to them or shopping from their vast selection of paperback and hardbound books.
Freecycle is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.
e-End e-offers environmentally sound programs to recycle and adaptively reuse outdated computer, IT, electronic equipment and components. e-End has a Zero Landfill Policy for all processed material. The demanufacturing of equipment into separate commodities sends the material back into the manufacturing process to become new products, without consuming additional raw material resources. e-End is celebrating Earth Day during all of April with FREE Electronics Recycling.
Goodwill Industries – By donating to or buying things from Goodwill, you not only reuse items but also support job training and placement programs for people with disabilities and disadvantages. Stores take in and resell: clothing, bedding, appliances, toys, books, furniture and more. Goodwill also has established an E-Waste Initiative to seek economically and environmentally sound ways to recycle and reuse donated electronic equipment.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore provides quality, used and surplus building materials and home furnishings at a fraction of normal prices. Proceeds help local affiliates fund the construction of Habitat houses within our community.
Swap Baby Goods – This website provides an easy-to-use, friendly place for parents to swap, buy or sell baby items that are no longer needed. Their philosophy is simple, “Why buy when you can swap?swap
SwapStyle is an online fashion exchange where you can swap clothes, shoes, accessories, cosmetics and lots more, with people from all around the world.