Looking to save money and help the environment in 2012? Metro recycling expert Betty Shelley shares five simple steps for reducing, reusing and recycling in the new year.
Know what's in your garbage can
Does it include food scraps that could have been composted?
Are there still-good items such as clothing, furniture and school supplies that could have been donated for a possible tax deduction?
Does it include disposable packaging, for which there may be alternatives such as recyclable products with recyclable packaging or no packaging at all?
Use durable items such as cloth napkins and towels, plates and glasses.
Invest in reusable coffee cups, water bottles and shopping bags.
Choose permanent goods to conserve valuable resources that otherwise would be used to make new disposable items.
Reduce junk mail
Put your mailbox on a diet by saying "No" to junk mail; about 675 pieces of the stuff end up in every mailbox each year - a whopping 4 million tons nationwide.
Avoid signing up for contests and giveaways, unless the vendors will not share your information.
When moving, consider contacting everyone yourself rather than completing a postal change-of-address form. This can help cut down on junk mail following you to your new address.
Learn what's accepted for curbside recycling in your community.
Call Metro's recycling hotline or search its online interactive directory for the nearest recycling depot that can take items not accepted curbside.
When in doubt, leave it out. Rather than put questionable materials in your roll cart or recycling bin, check with your local jurisdiction or Metro's recycling hotline.
Choose a realistic but challenging way to reduce waste. For example, try giving up a frequent but nonessential purchase for a week.
Before making a purchase, consider whether it's really needed or could be borrowed or rented instead.
Make choices that help save your resources and the planet's resources at the same time. The most sustainable materials are the ones you never use.
Want more ideas for stepping up your green game in the new year? Call Metro's recycling hotline at 503-234-3000, or visit oregonmetro.gov.