April B Learning Lunch with B Local PDX
April 25, 2019 at Ecotrust
The Path to Zero Waste with Jeanne Roy, Center for Earth Leadership
Jeanne Roy is the co-founder of the Center for Earth Leadership, the Northwest Earth Institute, and the Oregon Natural Step Network. She also founded Recycling Advocates, Portland’s Master Recycler program, and the Home Eco-Party program; authored a weekly column on sustainable lifestyle in The Oregonian and This Week Magazine for five years; and serves as an advisor to public agencies on environmental policy matters.
Americans represent less than 5% of the world’s population but consume 25-30% of resources. There is so much potential for reducing waste in the United States. Consider how much waste you produce at home or at work. What size garbage can do you have and how often is your service? Think of these four steps to help you move towards zero waste, or drastically reduce what you’re sending to the landfill: recycle curbside, recycle depots, compost, and precycle.
You can save resources and energy and avoid pollution. In Oregon, amount of energy saved by recycling is equivalent to taking 670,000 cars off the road. Jeanne went over specifics of what was accepted in Portland’s curbside recycling program for paper, plastic, metal, and glass. Here are some examples:
Most boxes in the freezer section aren’t recyclable
Any paper with foil- greeting cards
Soiled paper or foil
Clamshell togo containers
Plastic tubs larger than 5.3 ounces
Metal lids are accepted when secured within metal cans. (Try placing bottle caps in empty soup cans and squeezing the top together)
Boxes with tape
Plastic pails and potting containers larger than 4”
There are some items that aren’t accepted curbside, but that you can take into depots or other collection spots. Plastic bags (#2 and #4) can be recycled at most Fred Meyer and Safeway stores, but not bags that crinkle! Think about offering to do a recycling depot trip for your neighborhood or office. Make it easier for others to responsibly recycle their waste. Some items you can take are: fluorescent bulbs, packaging peanuts, batteries, electronics, cloth, construction wood and more.
See this form for specifics of recycling depots and where to bring things: Beyond Curbside Recycling
After curbside and depot recycling, you’ve probably diverted 35% of your waste!
We have a couple of options with composting. You can use the yard debris pickup service or have onsite composting!
If you are composting with Portland’s curbside service, make sure all yard debris and food waste fits into your provided bin.
If you’re making your own compost for your garden, It’s important to have the right size bin along with the proper mix of greens and browns. Be sure to chop it up small and provide air and water to maintain moisture. Be sure to exclude meat and dairy when composting onsite to avoid pests and rodents. If you’re interested in starting your on onsite composting, you can attend a Metro workshop to get you started or check out their online resources for more tips.
After curbside and depot recycling, along with composting you’ve now eliminated about 70% of your waste.
Be aware of what you’re purchasing and how your choices can create waste. Consider purchasing the products with less packaging. Most disposable items have an alternative reusable product that can it your needs. Take your own shopping bags with you to the store. Buy in bulk and reuse the bags each time. Avoid wasteful takeout containers by eating in- either to home or at a restaurant. You can bring your own tupperware for leftovers! Most disposable items have an alternative reusable product that can it your needs. Here are some single-use alternatives:
Coffee mugs or thermos instead of Single-use to-go cup
Metal or hard plastic water bottle instead of bottled water
Cloth napkins or rags instead of paper napkins or paper towels
Ceramic, metal, or hard plastic plates instead of paper plates
Cloth totes instead of plastic bags
Before purchasing new items, can you borrow, rent, or buy used? Use this as a reference! (Artist Credit: Sarah Lazarovic)
MORE READING & RESOURCES
Learn more about Jeanne’s work and the Eco-School Network with this video, info sheet and annual report!
Here is an additional resource that was requested by attendees: