By Jake La Placa

Incorporating new environmentally friendly practices in your daily routine and lifestyle may sound challenging, but there are plenty of simple changes we can instill in our daily life to make our beautiful planet more hospitable for all of its inhabitants. Finding ways to properly dispose of our waste requires diligence and a commitment to being proactive, for example, but it can pay dividends for this verdant landscape we call home. Consider this your home manual for a better, greener lifestyle for you and your family.

Garbage and recyclable products are one of the primary obstacles in working toward a “zero-waste future.” What this future envisions is the conservation of all resources through responsible consumption, reuse, and recovery of products without burning and with no discharges to the land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

The disposal of our waste really comes down to our purchasing habits. When you think about it, nearly everything in our garbage or recycling bins is something that we previously purchased. To be an active participant in conserving our community and environment, ask yourself questions such as “Is this product recycled, recyclable, or non-recyclable?” Making this question a priority can eliminate waste from the start.

Or ask: “Can I use and reuse this product multiple times—napkins, razors, cups, and utensils?” You can also consider whether the item can be donated or repurposed once you no longer have a use for it. Answering these questions honestly is a small thing you can do to preserve our green and lush environment. You can find other tips and tricks specifically meant for our area in Lane County’s WasteWise Guide. Set up an organized system that works best for you, to help sort landfill garbage from recycling and compostable items.

Ways to improve our habits are all around us. Take clothes, for example. Textile mills generate about 20 percent of our world’s industrial pollution and use up to 20,000 chemicals in their manufacturing process. Furthermore, textile waste makes up around 34 percent of all ocean pollution. This industry is a major contributor to our Earth’s pollution.

Here’s what we can do: Make an effort to visit local thrift stores on a regular basis to either donate or buy. With textiles, it’s important to keep in mind how much you really need and ask whether what you have may be excessive. If you do come across an item that needs a new home in the midst of your cleaning, there are a couple of helpful places in our county best suited for resourceful shopping or donations.

MECCA will take most fabric, paper, and other crafting-type materials. At BRING Recycling, you’ll be able to find and donate a plethora of different recyclable items, from building materials to furniture, extending their use and keeping items out of the landfill.

Or, consider a beloved staple of the Eugene community, St. Vincent de Paul, which diverted more than 44 million pounds of useable materials from landfills in 2018. St. Vincent de Paul is an internationally recognized recycling-based business and participates in one of the largest mattress recycling programs in the United States. The nonprofit organization provides services for affordable housing, emergency services, and houseless services, too.

Second-hand websites such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are also a great way to keep textiles and other products out of the landfill on your own terms.

While we may not be able to achieve a better future for our planet on our own, remember that any step in the right direction is better than none at all. It takes a village, and you can do your part by being more efficient with your recyclable items and reimagining what you consider a necessity. As we celebrate our Earth, take a moment to remember all the life, love, and priceless memories that have been provided to you. It’s a two-way relationship, and I think we can all agree it’s one we want to last.

 

Where to donate:

BRING | 4446 Franklin Blvd. | 541/746-3023

Lane County Transfer Station | 3100 E 17th Ave. | 541/682-4120

MECCA | 449 Willamette St. | 541/302-1810

St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County | Multiple locations | 541/687-5820