As I write our first blog post I am left wondering how to introduce everyone to EcoGeneration.
About two years ago I went searching for options on how to recycle plastic waste. This was around the time Lane County, Oregon stopped allowing plastic to be recycled in the curbside bins and at the local transfer station. When I started researching how to recycle plastics, I discovered that the issue was much greater than just a single material. In response to the growing research I’ve done, I decided that I would share the information I learned with anyone who wanted to know more. Thus EcoGeneration was born.
Over the last two years, I have learned a lot in terms of waste and how it is contributing to climate change. Regardless of how one discards much of their trash, there is likely going to be a toll on the environment. The question is how great of a toll, and what can we do to minimize the impact.
I have also gained a lot of interest in various grassroots movements aimed at reducing waste. Initially, I was attracted to #PlasticFreeJuly since it was the targeted material that I knew was becoming a huge problem not only in Oregon but nationally and internationally as well. Over time I started to also look at the #BringYourOwnContainer movement, as this is directly linked to waste reduction techniques. Through the last several years I have learned a massive amount of information about waste, and I look forward to sharing tips and actions that we can all take to reduce our environmental impact.
In the last two years, EcoGeneration has organized a few litter pickups where we sort out all the garbage into a few basic categories: Landfill, Scrap Metal Recycling, Cigarette Butt Recycling, Plastic Recycling, Compost, and Paper Recycling.
Unlike some groups who pick up litter, we are not content to have our efforts sent to the landfill. In fact, we are so dedicated to recycling that most of our plastics go through a cleaning process, after which they are boxed up, and are sent to TerraCycle through their ZeroWaste program. By purchasing ZeroWaste boxes we are working to ensure that all the plastic is actually recycled, versus being sent to the landfill by the material recovery facility (MRF); which has become a problem here in Oregon. While the ZeroWaste program can be expensive, we believe that this is the best way to ensure that the litter is recycled.
In addition to litter pick-ups, in the name of EcoGeneration, I have been collecting cigarette butts for recycling. This odd piece of trash is the number one item littered in the world (EcoWatch, 2019).
In 2018, we were able to recycle 21.4 pounds of cigarette butts and packaging, and our goal for 2019 is to double that.
We hope to recycle at least 40 pounds of cigarette butts and associated packaging this year. Currently, we have shipped 15 pounds of cigarette butts to our recycler and have an additional 8 pounds waiting to be shipped. In an attempt to decrease the carbon footprint of shipping the cigarette butts we reuse old ziplock bags for storage and our shipping containers tend to be whatever box we have on hand.
We have also been working to identify locations that we can collect cosmetic and personal care packaging, allowing us to send it in for recycling. With this program, we work to ensure that all the waste is clean and free of contaminants, allowing us the ability to maintain our participation with our MRF collector. This program allows us to recycle all sorts of things ranging from shampoo/conditioner bottles to makeup packaging.
Our newest program to reduce waste has encompassed a local coffee shop/breakfast shop. We started collecting their food waste to compost in our backyards. By doing this we are effectively working to reduce the amount of food waste that goes to the landfill. The benefits of diverting the food waste from the landfill include the overall reduction in methane gasses emitted, saves landfill space, and reduces the carbon footprint of transporting waste around the county. In time we hope to expand this program to serve more restaurants. However, to do this we will need more space, and we are tossing around the idea of creating a local community garden that would absorb and utilize the compost.
In time we strive to do so much more! With your support and our hard work, we know that this is the start of something new!
EcoWatch. (2019). Cigarette Butts: The Most Littered Item in the World. Retrieved from: https://www.ecowatch.com/cigarette-butts-litter-2635534590.html Viewed on: July 1, 2019.