Tossing those cans and paper products into the recycling bin is a good practice, but there’s something you can do that is even better than recycling: reduce and reuse. Our grandparents were ahead of their time when they saved every scrap of aluminum foil or plastic tub to reuse over and over. Did you know that reduce and reuse come before recycle? We are supposed to reduce and reuse, so we don’t have to recycle and cause the need for more waste storage.
The Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board (R-Board) is on a mission to make young and old aware of the steps they can take to contribute less to the landfill and require the recycling of fewer materials. All these efforts help keep Stafford County and our country beautiful.
“I always say ‘no waste, no worries,’” said Diane Jones, Recycling Coordinator for the R-Board, a partnership between Stafford County and the City of Fredericksburg. “The best way to cut down on trash in this world is not to make it in the first place.”
Jones has been in the waste management world for 27 years, with more than 20 years at the R-Board. The proliferation of packaging has been a big concern for the R-Board. Jones says you can cut down on your purchase of packaging by using concentrated cleaners in reusable spray bottles. Watch your purchases and avoid buying products with excess packaging. Reuse or repair the items you already have to cut down on new purchases, which also helps keep those expenses down too.
The R-Board works hard on public outreach and making the most of the resources they have. This year, they used grant money to refurbish the Mobile Landfill Exhibit they take to visit local schools and events. The interactive exhibit provides educational waste management activities for children. Members of the R-Board staff are available for speaking in schools or at civic group meetings. Free tours of the landfill may also be arranged with landfill staff.
“Our efforts to educate the public about recycling have paid off. We have exceeded the state-mandated recycling rate of 25% for the last 12 years,” said Chairman of the Stafford Board of Supervisors and Chairman of the R-Board Meg Bohmke. “But we can always do better. We ask our patrons to think about every item they touch and every buying decision they make. At my house, we make reducing our trash easy by keeping a compost pail and a box for small recyclables under our sink.”
The annual recycling rate at the landfill over the last few years has ranged between 40% and 45%. There’s no charge for recycling metal, bottles, cans, scrap metal, oil and anti-freeze. If you’re wondering what to do with hazardous waste – like paint thinner or herbicides – and old computers and cell phones, the landfill hosts a Hazardous Waste and eWaste Collection event twice a year. The next one is being held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, 2018, in the parking lot of Stafford Middle School, 101 Spartan Drive, Stafford, VA 22554.
What can you do to reduce and reuse?
- Buy used – clothing, cars, toys, building materials, and other items.
- Buy in bulk and look for products that use less packaging.
- Buy reusable over disposable – cloth napkins instead of paper, microfiber cloths instead of disposable wipes, cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers.
- Recycle cardboard and paper – paper fibers can be recycled five to seven times.
- Maintain and repair items like tires, clothing and appliances to reduce replacement.
- Borrow or rent items that are infrequently used.
- Donate items instead of disposing of them.
- Keep a compost pail in your kitchen – a compost pile generates terrific amendments for your soil.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- Use reusable shopping bags.
- Carry your reusable coffee mug for refills.
For more information on the Regional Landfill and how you can help keep Stafford County beautiful, visit www.r-board.org.