Plastic Free July
Plastic Free July is here! Join millions of people around the globe in reducing the number of single-use plastics used throughout the month of July. Taking small steps together to reduce or refuse single-use plastics helps create a collective positive impact for the planet and our communities. Less waste means less litter and decreased costs to towns and cities that must haul and manage our waste, as well as greater conservation of natural resources.
Ways to participate in Plastic Free July:
- Start small - Participating in Plastic Free July doesn't mean you need to overhaul your life or spend money. Contact your favorite brands and let them know you'd like to see refillable products offered.
- Discover items you may be able to reduce the use of by taking the Pesky Plastics Quiz (leaves DEC). After taking the quiz, select an item to reduce or refuse for the month or try a new item each week.
- Register to take the Plastic Free July challenge (leaves DEC).
- Support local businesses that have refill and reuse options by choosing to shop at their establishments and if possible leave them a positive review or a shout out on social media.
- Opt Out - "Skip the Stuff" - When dining out or ordering takeout, you can let food service staff know you'd like to skip plastic straws, plastic cutlery, or condiment packets if you do not need these items.
- Learn (leaves DEC) about businesses offering reuse options in the areas of food service, retail, and shipping and packaging.
- Start any time - Things too busy right now? You don't have to wait until next July to commit to reducing the number of single-use plastics in your life. Start planning plastic free goals for September or any month of the year to refocus your attention to choosing less single-use plastic in your life whenever possible.
Waste reduction -- State Solid Waste Management Policy
Waste reduction in NYS is first in the hierarchy of waste management under the State Solid Waste Management Policy established in New York State's Environmental Conservation Law. It focuses on the prevention of solid waste generation through changes in behavior and changes in products, packaging and purchasing. For individuals, waste reduction is a shift to consciously thinking about not creating waste in the first place. For product manufacturers, it is the design, manufacture, purchase or use of materials to reduce the volume or toxicity before products are produced and eventually enter the waste stream. (This is also known as source reduction.)
DEC waste reduction efforts have focused on the following general areas:
- promotion and recognition of voluntary initiatives;
- developing and conducting an educational outreach program; and
- working nationally, regionally and locally for toxicity and volume reduction of products and packaging.
Public Education and Technical Assistance
Ongoing DEC program efforts, which have reduced solid waste generation and have contributed to waste reduction goals, include:
- providing technical assistance on waste and toxicity reduction opportunities;
- requiring all local planning units to include waste reduction initiatives in their local programs and detailing them in their comprehensive recycling analyses and local solid waste management plans;
- encouraging municipalities to adopt quantity-based user fee disposal programs such as Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) or pay per bag or pay per pound programs which encourage individuals to dispose of less waste through a financial incentive;
- preparing and distributing educational publications on waste reduction opportunities and initiatives;
- educating solid waste management and recycling officials, local government officials, businesses, manufacturers, and the public through workshops, seminars, webinars, conferences, meetings and presentations as to the steps they can take to prevent waste; and
- developing and posting of waste reduction program efforts on the internet.
Organics Waste Composting as a Waste Reduction Measure
Composting of organic waste (anything that was once living) can be an effective waste reduction measure to prevent organic materials from entering the waste stream. Yard waste, and many food wastes, provide the greatest waste reduction opportunities for residents through backyard composting, as well as leaving grass clippings on the lawn (Leave It On The Lawn), or using leaves and grass clippings for mulch. According to the USEPA report, Municipal Solid Waste Generation, recycling and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2008, yard trimmings and food scraps represent over 25% of the municipal solid waste stream.
In addition to reducing waste, grass clippings left on the lawn return nutrients to the soil. According to the Cornell University Waste Management Institute, every garbage bag of grass clippings contains up to one-quarter of a pound of organic nitrogen enrichment for a lawn.
Make sure to visit our other Recycling and Composting webpages for reuse, recycling and composting ideas.