Breaking up with plastics in 2021
Did you know? The United States produces more plastic waste per person than any other country in the world – estimated at 286 pounds per person, per year! Without reducing the amount of plastic produced and purchased, this startling statistic won’t be going anywhere. And while Denver Recycles does accept certain plastic materials for recycling, these materials are mostly downcycled. In other words, plastic bottles, clamshells, and jars placed in Denver’s purple recycle carts are not turned back into plastic bottles and jars. Instead, the plastic recycling process turns discarded single-use plastic packaging into other products such as textiles, knickknacks, and even carpeting, which will eventually end up in the landfill (for comparison, glass and metal containers can be recycled right back into glass and metal containers). In addition to the downcycling process that occurs to recyclable plastics, many plastic items are simply not accepted in many recycling programs in the first place.
Due to the challenges with recycling plastics and the confusion around plastic recycling guidelines, Denver Recycles always recommends avoiding plastics as much as possible. And, February is a perfect month to reevaluate your relationship with this material and consider breaking up with plastic altogether. Don’t worry, we know breakups are hard. That’s why Denver Recycles is here to help! We’re posting tips and resources for breaking up with plastic on our Facebook page all month long. And, we’ve included some first steps, below, to get you started.
- CHOOSE GLASS OVER PLASTIC. With so many products at the grocery store, it’s easy to choose glass over plastic (think apple sauce, honey, syrup, juice, salad dressing, mayo, peanut butter, jelly, milk, cooking oils, mustard, etc.). Glass bottles and jars placed in your purple recycle cart get recycled into new glass bottles right here in Colorado. So, buy your food in glass instead of plastic whenever possible and remove the lids and empty the containers completely before recycling.
- SAY ‘NO THANKS.’ When offered plastic items that you know you don’t need, just say, “No thanks. I’m breaking up with plastic.” Examples include straws, utensils, bags (especially if it’s just for one or two items), drink lids, free giveaways at events, and samples. Trust us, you won’t miss what you don’t need.
- BRING YOUR OWN. Get in the habit of bringing your own bags, bottles, or even utensils with you when leaving the house. The hardest part about doing this is remembering. Fortunately, we have some great tips for remembering to ‘bring your own’ on our Refuse and Reuse page.
For additional information about Denver Recycles, waste reduction strategies, and all other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit Denvergov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Seven reasons to love the Denver Compost Program
- It’s easy to compost using the Denver Composts program. By simply placing your food scraps and yard debris in green compost carts instead of trash carts, you can significantly reduce what is sent to the landfill and the amount of methane generated by your waste. Since methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, composting is an easy way for all of us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
- Composting turns our waste into a valuable resource that provides many benefits to our yards, gardens, and the environment. And Denverites can also purchase finished compost made from the materials placed in Denver’s green carts at Denver area Ace Hardware stores. Just look for bags labeled as Denver’s Own EcoGro™ Compost.
- Wilted flower arrangements and sweets are compostable. Just be sure to remove rubber bands, wrappers, and all other non-compostable elements before placing these materials in your green cart.
- Sharing is caring, and we don’t mind if you share your green cart with friends and/or neighbors. Our goal is to get compostable materials composted. If splitting the cost and sharing a compost cart with your neighbor is what works best for you, we’re all for it.
- Spring is almost here, and green compost carts can help you manage the increase in yard debris that comes with the change of the seasons. Along with food scraps and non-recyclable paper, the Denver Composts program accepts yard debris such as leaves, grass clippings, perennials, and even weeds that you pull from your lawn and garden.
- Signing up is easy. You can sign up for the Denver Composts program in minutes, and once you do, you’ll be a participant in a program that keeps more than 10,000 tons (20 million pounds!) of food waste, yard debris, and non-recyclable paper out of the landfill each year.
- You’ll receive a free kitchen pail when you sign up. In addition to a green compost cart, we will also provide a 2-gallon kitchen pail that you can place on your counter for collecting discarded food scraps and spoiled leftovers.