Garbage, refuse, trash, waste... these are all different names for the stuff we may no longer want or use. There are plenty of options for what to do with our waste (read on), but one of the most important ways to become sustainable involves evolving our consumption patterns.
Changing Consumption PatternsThis is what Strategy 5 of the A2ZERO Carbon Neutrality Plan addresses: changing the way we use, reuse, and dispose of materials. At its core, this is about moving our community towards a circular economy.
While there are options to recycle and compost in Ann Arbor (in addition to your landfill waste bin), there is far more to the picture in considering our use of “things”. To learn more, check out this video from The Story of Stuff Project about the system of waste and how it’sgenerated.There are many stages in a product's life cycle, and each one affects the environment. Before making a purchase, the above image can help you consider the full impact of the product's material, manufacturing method, and usage.
Composting and Recycling
Over 50% of Ann Arbor waste is diverted from landfills for recycling or composting. 40% of your household waste could be composted (we know because we sorted through 100 carts). Ann Arbor residents are awesome recyclers but we can always do more.
Ann Arbor adopted the Waste Less: Solid Waste Resource Plan in October 2013 that identifies ways for the community to move towards a goal of zero waste. The plan sets to goals to help divert materials from the landfill:
- Increase single family diversion rates from 50% to 60% by 2017
- Increase total citywide diversion rates from 31% to 40% by 2017
Reaching these goals requires a lot of help for residents and businesses in the community.
What Can You Do?
Green Purchasing Checklist
If you do need to purchase an item, consider the following:
- Is it necessary?
- Does it contain 30% or greater post-consumer recycled content (paper)?
- Is it made of biobased content?
- Is it environmentally preferable, energy efficient, and/or water efficient?
- Does it have minimal life cycle costs?
- Does it have minimal risk of toxic/hazardous chemicals?
- Is it durable or does it have a long product life?
- Can you buy a slightly used version as opposed to a new one?