Reducing, Recycling and Compost
Here we’re talking about the 5 R’s
Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle and Rot
To reduce landfill waste, we must first reduce then reuse or recycle. You can reduce waste by thinking before taking an item, particularly one that is used once and then thrown away. See some of the tips on the In the Kitchen tab to get started. Recycling is an effective way to reduce landfill waste and create new products from old ones. Highland Park has a convenient single stream system, meaning all recyclables are placed in one container and processed at the sorting facility. This is for common household waste such as paper, cardboard, glass, metal, plastic containers and drink cartons. Lakeshore has a handy guide here you can print and post for easy reference. Note, plastic bags CANNOT be recycled curbside, but can be recycled at local supermarkets and big box stores in the plastic film collection bins. The Recycling Center of Highland Park collects, styrofoam, electronics, paired shoes, textiles, holiday lights and more, check here for hours and accepted items. You can find information on disposal of unusual items here. Go Green Wilmette has an extensive recycling guide for just about everything, check it out here.
The EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, constituting 22 percent of discarded municipal solid waste. Composting keeps this out of our landfills and creates healthy, nutrient rich soil for your garden or lawn. Although it may seem overwhelming it’s actually pretty easy here in Highland Park. Our curbside organics and landscape waste collection program offered by Lakeshore Recycling Systems takes the guesswork out of what can or can’t be composted by accepting ALL types food scraps, fruits, veggies, meats, bones, oils and even your napkins and Kleenex can go in the bin with yard waste. You can pay for scheduled pick ups or use yard waste stickers as needed for a cost saving option. Sign up here under the Organic and Landscape Service Options heading.
One of the best things you can do for the planet is to refuse and reuse. Although recycling is helpful it still has an environmental impact. Energy and natural resources are used to transport and process recyclables. Many plastics are not able to be recycled due to low grade materials and lack of an after market. By taking your own bags, jars and containers to be refilled and reused you can prevent pounds of plastic from being sent to the landfill each year. Shop at thrift and consignment stores for clothing, toys and household items. Join the Highland Park Free Box Facebook group to unload and pick up anything you can imagine, for free! Carry a shopping bag to every store, not just the grocery store. Bring a container from home when you go out to eat for any leftovers. Take your tupperware to the deli for meats, cheeses and other items, Jewel and Sunset foods are happy to do this. Every room in your house generates more waste than you think. In the bathroom, you can switch to shampoo bars, use toothpaste tabs, shaving bars and regular old bar soap with a washcloth instead of gels and plastic poufs. Find out if your salon offers refills on shampoos and conditioners in bulk. These razors can eliminate disposables. Avoiding extra packaging also reduces your waste, meaning fewer trips to the bin and the curb, saving you money in the long run.