Nederland took its first steps toward Zero Waste in 2011, with adoption of Envision 2020 - the document that would help move the Town forward over the next ten years. Since then - as a town, as a government, and as a community - we have made a unified push towards our ultimate goal: 100% zero waste in Nederland.
What is Zero Waste?
Zero waste is an approach to waste management that focuses on reimagining the life cycle of resources and products. The goal of zero waste is to keep as much trash out of landfills, incinerators, and the environment as possible. In a zero waste system, materials are reused as many times as possible.
Ways to reduce waste can happen at every step in a products lifecycle - from production to purchase, and from use to retirement. This page will offer tips and solutions to reducing waste within our community. Some might be more obvious than others, but the goal is to offer a comprehensive guide that anyone can use to eliminate waste in their lives.
The 7 R's of Zero Waste
The 7 R's of Zero Waste is an expanded form of the original 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' slogan. These additional R's can help us find even more ways to reduce waste in our daily lives. Use this as a primer to get started in your own Zero Waste journey:
Rethink: A zero waste lifestyle starts internally, by shifting how we think about the products we buy or bring into our lives. Think about how your buying habits effect the environment, and how those habits could possibly change. Thinking critically about what you buy is an important first step in waste reduction.
Refuse: By being mindful of what we purchase, we can use our wallets to make an impact on waste throughout our economy. It doesn't just stop there, though. Nowadays, we are bombarded with so many freebies that we will never use - from junk mail to leaflets, business cards, promo items and more, it's incredibly easy to spend nothing, yet end up with waste regardless. When confronted with these types of items, take a moment to Rethink what you'll actually use, and Refuse the rest.
Reduce: Have you ever caught yourself using too much dish soap to clean dishes, or using a stack of paper towels to dry your hands? These are excellent areas where you can reduce the amount that's being used to what is strictly necessary. When it comes to buying something you're out of, can you replace it with something with recyclable packaging? Think about the resources you use on a daily basis, and find areas where you can reduce their consumption and packaging.
Repurpose/Repair: Once something has been used for it's original purpose, don't throw it out! If it breaks, find ways to fix it! Old items can have their lifespan extended with repairs, or by finding new uses for them!
Reuse: Items can potentially have a longer lifespan that we expect. Just because a straw or plastic cutlery is supposed to be single-use doesn't mean that has to be the case. These kinds of items can be cleaned and reused multiple times before they need to be retired. Better still: consider Reducing this type of waste from the start by investing in more durable, reusable alternatives.
Recycle: Only after we've tried to Repurpose, Repair, or Reuse something, should we then recycle it. Many cities - Nederland included - use a single-stream recycling process, meaning that all recyclables go to one location, where they are sorted. Despite this, there can be a lot of confusion about what can and can't be recycled. Under our Zero Waste Resources, you'll find guides to what can go into single-stream, as well as places around Nederland where you can recycle things that can't!
Rot: Composting is an important step in waste reduction! By properly composting our organic waste, we can properly mitigate CO2 that would otherwise be released in landfills, and instead turn it into a useful soil amendment. Look under our Zero Waste Resources for tips for composting!
Recycle in Nederland
While the Nederland Transfer Station handles most of the recycling for Town, there are a number of other businesses that will accept harder to recycle materials. Click the blue icons on the map below to learn more: