By Brad Stager
Recycling household and industrial waste is an established and popularly accepted way to responsibly dispose of used goods that can be processed so the material can be used for another purpose.
But if your recycling bin is always full, there’s a chance you could benefit by considering how reducing usage in the first place and reusing materials when possible can also fit into your waste management routine.
That’s a message Hillsborough County wants residents to be aware of as part of a regional Reduce Your Use Tampa Bay campaign to increase knowledge about waste.
The campaign is a collaborative effort by Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Pinellas County, the City of St. Petersburg and Keep Pinellas Beautiful. One of the consortium’s goals is to encourage individuals, families and businesses to take steps that reduce waste as well as the need to recycle.
Reducing waste in the products and resources used by families and businesses can save money as well as space in landfills. A little planning or minor changes can help, and no effort is too small, according to Hillsborough County Recycling & Waste Reduction Specialist Daniel Gallagher.
“People don’t realize the impact they have. Even at the individual level, you can make a difference, for better or worse,” he said.
Single-use items such as food containers and utensils, as well as disposable cups and bottles, are among the items Gallagher cites as promoting large amounts of waste.
Adjustments that waste industry experts suggest include businesses switching to a durable, reusable material instead of disposable cardboard boxes for containers; or, for families, it could be using filtered tap water in reusable bottles instead of consuming pallets of store-bought water. Finding another purpose for used items before properly discarding them is another waste-busting tip.
Gallagher summarizes the approach as, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” And, if you do recycle, “to know the rules to recycling.”
Among such rules is ensuring the suitability of items for recycling. This avoids problems that arise when recyclable collections are contaminated with just about anything from food to diapers, or when items such as clothing, hoses and even plastic bags become entangled in the waste sorting equipment, stopping the process and possibly damaging equipment.
You can learn more about the Reduce Your Use Tampa Bay campaign, including event information, waste management tips and business recognition opportunities, at reduceyourusetampabay.org.