You may be a master recycler at home, but what about when you’re on the road? Summer vacations are just around the corner. Wherever your travels might take you, be sure to reduce, reuse and recycle along the way. Here are some helpful tips:
Check ahead — Planning for recycling on your road trip is just as important as remembering to pack your tooth brush and phone charger. Contact the places you’ll be staying (campground, motel, resort, etc.) to find out what recycling services they offer. Once you arrive, lodging staff should be able to direct you to a recycling location on- or off-site. Another great resource is iRecycle, an app developed by Earth911 to provide recycling information and locations for the USA, and parts of Mexico and Canada. Both EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com and the Green Hotel Association can help you find lodging that offers recycling.
Contain it — You’ll need a way to contain your recyclables and trash while you’re on the road. Bring a container (bag, bin, etc.) for each. If you’re staying someplace that doesn’t offer recycling, bring your own container to hold recyclables until you reach someplace that does.
Let it rot — If you compost at home, you can compost on the road, too. Take an airtight plastic container or two to store your compostables until you get back home.
Reduce packaging — Space is always at a premium when you’re on the road, so choose items with little or no packaging. Avoid items that are individually wrapped. If you end up with candy wrappers or chip bags, check with TerraCycle, a company that prides itself in recycling everything.
Leave only small “food prints” — Eating out on the road is expensive both in terms of your pocket book and energy and resources. Pre-purchase snacks, drinks and food, keep perishables in a cooler, and visit a local grocery store when you run low.
Go for unique souvenirs — Consider buying goods by local artists to support the local economy and buy fair trade items when available. If you’re buying gifts for others, use your old road map or a brochure as gift wrap.
Pack your reusable bags — Always pack a few reusable bags for souvenirs and those on-the-road grocery stops.
Just say no to “Would you like a box for that?” — Remember to take plastic food storage containers for your restaurant leftovers. They’re easier to pack in a cooler than flimsy takeout containers, and they keep food fresh longer.
Reduce, reuse, rehydrate — Take reusable mugs and bottles for all your road trip drinks.
For information on where you can take your recyclables once you get home, visit RecycleSpot.org, Kansas City metro area’s one-stop spot for recycling, reuse and waste reduction information.
The MARC Solid Waste Management District administers an annual grant program which awards funds to local communities and organizations for waste reduction and recycling-related projects. From time to time, we publish updates about recent grant recipients.
In 2012, the district awarded a grant to Harvesters Community Food Network, which serves a 26-county service area in northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. The organization is well-known in the Kansas City region as a clearinghouse for collecting and redistributing food and household products. Last year, Harvesters distributed more than 41 million pounds of food and household products to food pantries and soup kitchens to help those in need.
Much of Harvesters’ product comes from generous donations of perishable food from food manufacturers and produce operations. For the most part, this is food doesn’t meet the standards of grocery stores but is still edible. Unfortunately, some of the produce that Harvesters receives is no longer edible and is not for distribution to its network of partner agencies.
The inedible food used to leave the warehouse through the trash, but Harvesters wanted to reduce the environmental impact of its operations. Harvesters successfully applied for a district grant to change how it manages unusable food donations. The grant funds were used to build a concrete pad and gravel drive that allowed for placement of an additional, separate container for discarded food. The funding also purchased roller bins and provided staff training.
Once considered trash, discarded food is now collected and composted by Missouri Organic Recycling. During the first year of operations with its new sorting process, Harvesters diverted more than 600 tons of food to be composted. According to Chief Operating Officer Norm Bowers, the project was successful because Harvesters had the support of its board and staff, and a plan in place to begin diverting produce.
Over the next 10 years, Harvesters projects it will divert more than 4,000 tons of perishables and produce from disposal.
The Solid Waste Management District is proud to support Harvesters in this effort and help the organization reach its goal of a reduced environmental impact.
Did you know that approximately 17 percent of the Kansas City metropolitan area’s waste stream is food waste? The National Resources Defense Council estimates that American families throw out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages that they buy (including inedible portions such as bones and peels). When food is wasted, the valuable resources that were used for its production are also wasted.
World Environment Day (June 5), an annual global event sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme, is aimed at promoting positive environmental action. This year’s theme, Think.Eat.Save., focuses on food waste and encourages people to “reduce their foodprint.” This campaign encourages each of us to take action in our homes and businesses to reduce food waste, save money, minimize the environmental impact of food production and consumption, and encourage more efficient food production processes.
There are simple steps you can take at home to reduce the amount of food that you throw out. Jonathan Bloom, who blogs about wasted food, recommends taking action against your personal food waste with the following five steps:
1. Plan your meals before you grocery shop.
2. Make a detailed shopping list and stick to it.
3. Serve reasonably-sized portions.
4. Save your leftovers.
5. Eat those leftovers!
Consider donating food you don’t intend to consume to a local food bank instead of tossing it into the trash. When food can’t be consumed or donated, consider composting it instead of discarding it. Composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients. Numerous “how to” resources are available on the Internet for home composting of both yard waste and food scraps.
There is a lot that each and every one of us can do to reduce our food waste. Learn to think about food waste, eat food more mindfully and save money and natural resources at Think.Eat.Save.