There are lots of ways to stop waste before it starts. One of the first steps you can take is to stop buying and using disposable products. Here are some examples:
1. Bring your own reusable water bottle wherever you go. Add water bottle to the list of items that you run through in your head before leaving the house - keys, wallet, phone, water bottle - and you’ll be on your way to making this part of your daily routine.
2. Bring your own reusable travel mug. Most coffee shops will give a discount for providing your own mug, and your drink will stay hot longer too!
3. Bring your own tote bag every time you shop and say no thanks to plastic and paper shopping bags. Most stores provide a discount for each bag you bring.
No matter how small or insignificant an item may seem, making a product new from raw materials requires the energy-intensive and resource-intensive steps of removing material from the earth, processing it, manufacturing it into something useful, and transporting it to wherever it will be sold. All these steps require a lot of energy, and have an environmental impact. So, rather than using an item just once, it’s best to find items that can be reused. To really make your efforts count, be sure to use your reusable fabric tote bags, travel mug and/or water bottle regularly and resist replacing them just because you like the color or logo of another reusable product better.
Let’s put an end to single-use waste. Incorporating durable, reusable items (preferably ones you already have), into your daily routine is a great way to curb a throw-away lifestyle, save money, and prevent litter. Visit DenverGov.org/Refuse-Reuse to learn more and to take the Refuse & Reuse pledge.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that up to 40% of food in the United States is wasted. While some of this food waste occurs outside of our immediate control as part of the complex national food system, a large percent of this waste can be controlled a little closer to home. In fact, NRDC found that upwards of 40% of the food wasted in Denver was generated from households. This makes households the single largest generator of food waste in Denver, and therefore, a great location to focus on reducing food waste.
While no reasonable Denver resident would intentially throw away hundreds of dollars worth of food each year, that’s essentially what we’re all doing. The average American family of four spends an estimated $1,800 per year on food that they don’t eat!
In a recent study of Denver households, the NRDC found that the average amount of food wasted, per person, in households included in this study was about 4.2 pounds of food per week. Of that, more than 76% of this wasted food could have been eaten (for example – a banana peel is considered an inedible food scrap in this study, but a discarded piece of banana is considered edible). If this situation sounds alarming, it certainly is. However, there is hope, and there are lots of great tools to help change things, especially in our homes.
Here are a few quick tips and resources from SavetheFood.com to help prevent food from going to waste in the first place:
When we waste food, we’re essentially wasting everything that was used to produce it-- including water, energy, labor, fuel, time, and of course, money. Even though the Denver Composts program can accept food scraps and food waste for composting, it’s always better to prevent food from going to waste in the first place.
For additional waste reduction tips, information about the Denver Composts program, and all other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit Denvergov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Denver Recycles is asking you to show your love for Denver by becoming a Denver Composts customer. In addition to supporting Denver in reaching it’s 2020 Sustainability Goals, composting also helps keep material out of the landfill, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and creates a valuable soil amendment that can be used to build healthy soil. Beyond these benefits and showing your support to the city that you love, ordering a green compost cart now will make it easy to compost that wilted bouquet of flowers and uneaten Valentine’s Day sweets later. It’s truly a win, win, win!
In case you’re not convinced, here are a few more reasons to order order your green Denver Composts cart today!
To learn more and sign up for the Denver Composts program, visit DenverGov.org/GoGreen or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Denver’s Adopt-a-Spot program is a great resource for residents that are motivated to help keep Denver a clean and safe place to live and play.
The program is free, and perfect for groups of all sizes and participants of all ages. Groups ranging from organized civic groups, to families, to schools are encouraged to Adopt-a-Spot in Denver and commit to maintaining this spot for a year (or more!).
Denver’s Keep Denver Beautiful program staff is here to help you with your commitment and can provide organizational help, safety and procedure training, supplies such as bags, safety vests, work gloves and tools (as needed), and trash pick-up after each cleanup. Your group will also receive a customized sign to advertise your commitment.
If your school group, business, church, family, or another group wants to commit to adopting a spot, more information can be found online at DenverGov.org/KDB or by calling 311. For more information about all other services and programs offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit denvergov.org/trashandrecycling or call 311 (720-913-1311).
In 2018, Denver households generated about 230,000 tons of waste, but only recycled and composted about 57,000 tons of this material. To achieve our 2020 goal of reaching a 34% recycling and composting rate, Denver residents will need to recycle and compost 22,000 more tons per year, which is approximately one more pound, per household, per day! In other words, we can do this!
Getting one more pound of recyclable and compostable materials out of the trash cart and into a recycle or compost cart is easy. Here are some quick actions that you can take today to make this happen:
Compost more! Nearly 50% of the material in Denver’s trash can be composted.
Recycle more! Nearly 25% of the material in Denver’s trash can be recycled.
Reduce the size of your black trash cart.
For information about general waste reduction, the Denver Recycles program, and all services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit www.DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Here in Denver, recycling is a year-round event!
In addition to dutifully filling green and purple carts throughout the year, Denver residents can look forward to a variety of seasonal programs that target extra materials (such as fall leaves) or other materials that don’t belong in Denver’s regular recycling or composting carts (such electronics, holiday lights and paint). While not all 2019 program and event dates have been set, there are some upcoming highlights and a few noteworthy dates to keep on your radar starting now.
The events included above are only a small sample of what’s to come in 2019. Stay connected with Denver Recycles for seasonal and special event announcements in 2019! Some of the easiest ways to stay connected include following Denver Recycles on social media, setting up collection reminders, and downloading the Denver Trash and Recyling app.
For information about all programs and services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit www.DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Now is the perfect time to become an expert composter and recycler, and to help curb the culture of waste in Denver! The Denver Master Composter Training Program offers Denver residents a unique opportunity to learn about composting and recycling topics, and to give back to the community by sharing this information with others. Through classroom seminars and hands-on experiences, Master Composter participants study a broad range of topics, including the science behind the composting process, compost pile construction, resource conservation, and recycling. In return, Master Composters share this knowledge with the community by teaching free “Learn to Compost” workshops and by participating in outreach events at community gardens, schools and local farmers’ markets. Through learning and giving back to the community, Master Compost volunteers also build a community of their own – one of like-minded individuals that are motivated to make positive changes in Denver.
Master Composter Participants at A1 Organics’ Commercial Compost Facility in 2018
Keeping track of weekly, every-other-week, and every-four-week services can be challenging. Fortunately, a variety of collection reminder options are available to help Denver residents remember their trash, recycling and compost service schedules.
Denver Solid Waste Management customers are encouraged to use the following collection reminder tools:
All collection reminder options, including the app, are free and can be deleted at any time. Don’t delay! Join the thousands of Denver residents already utilizing collection reminders.
Curious about other electronic resources offered by Denver Recycles? These additional resources are available on the Denver Recycles website and within the Denver Trash and Recycling app:
For additional information about Denver Recycles, collection reminders, and all other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit Denvergov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Closing the loop and using recycled material rather than virgin materials to make new products is proven to reduce our impact on the environment by reducing resource use, reducing energy and water use, and by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Denver residents that recycle using their purple carts and purchase materials made with recycled-content are directly involved in closing the loop, but it’s important to note that Denver residents must also take responsibility for keeping this process moving smoothly by only placing acceptable materials in their purple carts.
Recyclables placed in Denver’s purple recycle carts are collected by Denver Solid Waste Management trucks and transported to Denver’s material recovery facility (or “MRF” for short) for processing. At the MRF, the recyclable materials are sorted into like items, and then compacted into large cubes, called bales, that are loaded onto trucks and trains for transportation to manufacturing facilities where new products are made from recycled materials.
Sorting the recyclables from your purple carts isn’t an easy job. Denver’s MRF uses a combination of heavy equipment, conveyor belts, screens, robots, magnets, and people to make this possible. The sorting equipment at the MRF is designed to handle a large volume of acceptable materials. However, even small quantities of materials not accepted in Denver’s recycling program can damage the equipment at the MRF and slow the process down. While all contaminants are problematic and costly to remove, certain items rise to the top of the “keep these out of your purple cart” list.
The top four items to keep out of your purple cart include:
For more information about Denver's recycling guidelines, the Recycling Directory, and other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).
It’s back-to-school season, and Denver’s schools are coming back to life with the start of a new school year. While many things can change from year to year at individual schools, one thing remains the same across the board — Denver Public Schools is committed to recycling! For nearly a decade, Denver Public Schools and Denver Recycles have partnered to provide trash, recycling and compost collection at 160+ Denver schools across the City. Denver Solid Waste Management collection crews collect materials from school facilities, and both District and City staff work together to educate students and keep programs running smoothly.
Individual school recycling and composting programs wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of teachers, students, administrators, facilty managers, kitchen staff, parents, and other individuals involved with school operations. Before kicking off another great year of parthership, it’s worth celebrating the accomplishments from the 2017-2018 school year.
During the 2017-2018 school year, Denver Public Schools:
In all, DPS kept 19% of its waste out of the landfill last school year. This school year, Denver Recycles looks forward to helping the DPS community in engaging an even greater number of students and staff in our recycling and composting programs.
For classroom resources, additional information about the DPS / Denver Recycles partnership, and for all other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).
In Denver, trash, recycling and compost collection are provided to single family homes by Denver Public Works’ Solid Waste Management Division. Most Denver residents are aware of the cart-based services available to them, but they are often not aware of some of the other great services and resources provided.
To make sure you’re not missing out, check out this list of lesser-known services:
From appliance collection appointments to graffiti removal, Denver Solid Waste has you covered for more than just the basics of trash, recycling and compost collection. For additional information about services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).
There’s no denying that food is a huge part of our daily lives. Food is woven into our everyday routines (multiple times per day),it is part of our celebrations, our traditions, and ultimately, our cultural identity. Despite the important role that food plays in all of our lives, Americans are guilty of wasting a lot of the food that we grow, process, distribute, and purchase. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that more than 40% of food is wasted, from farm to fork. And, when we waste food, we’re essentially wasting everything that was used to produce it-- including water, energy, time, and of course, money. The average American family of four spends roughly $1,500 on food that they don’t eat!
Since wasting food wastes everything that went into making it, it should come as no surprise that cities like Denver are looking to decrease the amount of food that ends up in trash carts. According to a recent waste audit by Denver Solid Waste Management, food is actually the largest single item found in Denver’s trash carts. Since tossing edible food in the trash is wasteful and also generates greenhouse gases as it decomposes in our landfill, landfilling this material should be done only as a last resort. Composting is certainly preferred over landfilling, but reducing the amount of food that goes to waste in the first place is the best possible solution. The EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy is a helpful tool in prioritizing methods of food waste prevention
Here are three quick tips and resources from Save the Food to help prevent food waste in the first place:
The Natural Resource Defense Council’s Save the Food website, www.savethefood.com, is full of great resources to help prevent food waste. For additional information about composting and other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Summer is officially here! School is out of session, the days are longer, and Denverites of all ages are taking advantage of the warm weather. The streets and alleys are full of walkers, bikers, kids, and of course, their dogs. On top of the increase in pedestrian traffic, the summer months are the busiest months for Denver Solid Waste Management’s trash, recycling and compost collection crews.
To keep up with summer activities and the waste associated with them, there are more than 100 trucks collecting material in Denver’s neighborhoods on any given weekday. While Denver’s talented collection crews are always on the lookout for cars, people and pets, it’s just as important for Denver residents to be aware and alert this summer while sharing the streets and alleys with collection trucks.
Keeping Denver safe is a community effort, and Solid Waste Management needs your help keeping residents and collection crews out of harm’s way this summer (and year-round!). For additional information about services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).
According to national estimates, Americans generate nearly 16 million tons of textile waste each year (think clothes, sheets, towels, etc.), yet only 15% of that waste gets recycled. This equates to more than 70 pounds of textile waste, per person, per year!
Despite the many textile recycling options available for Denver residents, approximately 3% of the trash collected by Denver Solid Waste Management is textile waste (that’s about 10 million pounds per year!).
Help us change this trend by following the tips below.
Denver Recycles does not accept textiles in its purple cart recycling program, but a full list of local textile recycling options can be found online using the Denver Recycles’ Recycling Directory. For additional information about all other recycling options in Denver, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Save yourself time and energy this growing season by grasscycling, which is the process of leaving your grass clippings on your lawn after mowing. Grasscycling makes mowing quicker and easier, and is the natural way to return nutrients to your lawn.
More than a quarter of Denver’s household trash is composed of yard debris, and grass clippings account for a large portion of this material from April to September. By grasscycling, you can help stop this material from ending up in landfills and have a real impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re not already a grasscycling pro, give it a try this summer!
1. USE ANY MOWER. Remove the mower collection bag to allow clippings to fall back on the lawn. If your mower does not have a safety flap covering the opening over which the bag fits, then you may need to purchase a retrofit kit from your local hardware store.
2. MOW WHEN IT’S DRY. Wet grass clippings clump together and do not feed your lawn as well as dry grass clippings.
3. FOLLOW THE “1/3 RULE.” To foster healthy grass, do not cut more than 1/3 of the length of the grass at any time, and make sure that clippings are no more than one-inch long. Lawns are healthiest when they are mowed to a height of 2 ½ to 3 inches.
If you hire a landscaper to mow, be sure to ask them to adopt grasscycling methods when mowing your lawn.
Visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles for more information about grasscycling and other resources for reducing your waste.
Even though Denverites are recycling and composting more and more each year, an alarming amount of “good stuff” (otherwise known as recyclable and compostable material) is still ending up in Denver’s landfill. As shocking as it may sound, more than half of the materials Denver residents currently send to the landfill are organic (once living) materials and could have been composted. Denver can certainly do better, and doing so starts with decisions made in your home!
Denver Recycles offers a number of tools to help Denver residents reduce the amount of material ending up in Denver’s trash. Not every approach is feasible or appropriate for every home, but there is something that can work for everyone. To maximize the benefits of keeping this “good stuff” out of the landfill, Denver Recycles encourages residents to choose one, two, or all of the compost options outlined below.
No matter how it’s done, composting is an approachable and meaningful action that helps Denver residents decrease their impact on the climate, conserve resources, reduce pollution, and improve soil health. And, composting is essential for Denver to be able to meet its 2020 Sustainability Goal of keeping 34% of its waste out of the landfill. For these reasons, Denver Recycles encourages residents to choose one or all the above options for managing organic waste at home!
Don’t delay — start composting even more, today! For more information about backyard compost, Denver Composts!, and other Denver Recycles programs, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).
Spring is here, and it’s time to take your recycling and gardening efforts to the next level by learning how to compost in your own backyard! Get started today by signing up for one of Denver Recycles’ and Denver Urban Gardens’ FREE Learn to Backyard Compost classes. These hands-on classes will show you just how easy and fun it is to make your own compost from food scraps and yard debris such as leaves, brush, and even weeds!
Organic materials such as leaves, branches, grass clippings and food scraps make up more than half of what Denver residents send to the landfill each year. Making and utilizing compost at your home not only puts these resources to good use and sends less material to the landfill, but it also improves lawn and garden health, conserves resources, saves money, and increases overall soil health.
Free Learn to Backyard Compost classes begin on Sunday, May 6th and are offered through mid-October at the Denver Compost Demonstration Site, located within the Gove Community Garden (on the southwest corner of 13th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard). Each of the regular two-hour Learn to Backyard Compost class includes the compost basics—such as how to prepare organic material for composting, how to create the proper ratio of browns to greens (carbon to nitrogen), and how to properly water and turn your compost pile, container or tumbler. A total of six classes throughout the season are flagged as Worm Workshops, and specifically focus on vermicomposting (worm composting) techniques. Registration for all classes is on a first-come, first-served basis and will open one month prior to each class date. Pre-registration is required. To sign up for classes, visit dug.org/compost or call 303-292-9900.
Denver’s FREE Learn to Backyard Compost classes are sponsored by Denver Recycles and Denver Urban Gardens. For more information about backyard composting and other programs offered by Denver Recycles, please visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).