Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

I live in Wellesley, Massachusetts where we recycle nearly 90% of our solid waste. How is this possible? Here's my personal story.

As part of my effort to be more eco-friendly, I spend each Saturday morning sorting our solid waste into the following categories:

Natural colored high density polyethylene (HDPE) resin bottles
Other bottles


Brown paper bags
Junk mail


Aluminum, refundable
Aluminum, non-refundable


Organics - tea bags, food scraps

Yard waste

Specialty items
Printer cartridges

In Wellesley, there is no garbage service. Every household sorts their waste into these categories and drives to the recycling and disposal facility (the RDF). It's a social occasion. I'm likely to meet Fidelity Vice Presidents, McKinsey Partners, and Venture capitalists while dropping my recyclables into the appropriate bins. People meet, have romances, and get married at the RDF (true story!).

Each week, after dropping off all my recycling, I have just a few pounds of waste left over. That, we compost. We have two types of compost bins - a compost tumbler in the yard and a compost pail for the house to collect and transport kitchen scraps to the compost tumbler. Since our household is all vegan, we have no grease or meat waste at all, so we never have issues with attracting wildlife or rancid compost.

One really handy area of the RDF is the "Take or Leave it" area. Whenever we have items in the attic, garage or basement that still have a useful life but are no longer needed, we take them to the RDF where others can take them at no charge. It's a kind of town-wide Yankee swap system.

Just a few hours each week by the 5000 households in the town reduces our solid waste by 90% and generates $2 million in revenue for the town through the sale of recyclable materials.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle - it's a great way to be green in your neighborhood.


Jeremy_M_Taylor said...

I want to thank you for taking the time to write posts on being Eco Friendly. I'm an analyst for a hospital in Cleveland, and its quite neccessary to get the word out to others about this!

Question: What do you and/or your hospital do reduce, reuse and recycle at work? Whether going paperLESS, using recycled products, alternate energies, etc.?

Thanks again!

John Halamka said...

Here's an overview of hospital infrastructure activities

Here's an overview of paperless efforts

Susan Warthman, Public Service Librarian said...

I am sure you will go to heaven! If only there were more like you. I too am interested what your hospital does to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Susan Warthman, Public Service Librarian said...

I am also interested in how your hospital reduces, reuses and recycles.

Also, What are you doing in 2010? I have been designated to Chair
the Annual North Atlantic Health Science Libraries, Inc.(NAHSL) Conference in October, 2010. My co-chair & I were inspired by an article in Body & Soul (April, 2008) entitled "Greener Hospitals" by Andrew Lawler. Also, I recently heard Gary Hirshberg, owner and CE-YO of Stoneyfield Yogurt, speak on cost effective & green business habits. Would you consider being our key note speaker? -Susan Warthman