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5 Easy Ways To Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

The key to eliminating unnecessary waste is to first think of the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. These three practices help the planet and our local communities to use our resources better. Let’s talk about how Alachua County residents can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reduce

Alachua County residents can help reduce waste by first looking for ways to reduce the amount of materials we use. Here are five ways you can stop unnecessary waste.

  1. Reduce the amount of junk mail you get. Each year over 1 billion pounds of junk mail is delivered to mailboxes across America, and most of it ends up in landfills. While recycling junk mail is far better than tossing it in the garbage, preventing it can save millions of trees. Here are some ways to opt out of junk mail.
  2. Bring reusable tote bags to the grocery store. This is an easy way to reduce plastic waste. Think of all the plastic bags that are used to bring your groceries home. Now, think of all the plastic you could help reduce by bringing your own, reusable tote bags from home. Not only can you use them at checkout, but you can also use them to shop for produce to stop the excess use of plastic bags there as well.
  3. Go digital at work and at home. If it doesn’t need to be printed, save the paper. At work, this can be as simple as digitally sharing files instead of printing out documents. And at home, try to pay bills electronically. This helps to reduce paper sent to you. 
  4. Avoid single-use food and drink containers and utensils. Whenever possible, try to avoid single-use coffee cups, disposable utensils, straws and napkins. Keep a set of silverware at work along with a plate, bowl and cup that you can wash and reuse. Skip the plastic straw altogether or buy reusable ones instead. Remember, a lot of these items are made from plastic, have to be delivered by truck, and will end up in a landfill once we have used them one time. Anything we can do to reduce our use of these products can make a big impact.
  5. Keep a reusable water bottle with you. The Florida sun can surely make us thirsty. Instead of grabbing a plastic, disposable water bottle, remember to bring your own reusable steel or glass water bottle. Many stores and public locations are helping the efforts by installing water fountains designed specifically for refilling water bottles.

Reuse

Reusing items is an easy way to help Alachua County cut down waste. Before you throw something away, here are five easy ways to give something a second life. 

  1. Donate furniture, clothes and other household items. Alachua County has many organizations and charities that will happily accept donations of items you no longer want. Before you decide to trash something, find out how someone could reuse that item with our Zero Waste Wizard tool, and find a local dropoff location
  2. Buy from the Gainesville Resource Recovery Center (RRC) or Public Surplus .  The Resource Recovery Center (RRC) receives surplus items from various City agencies. The general public can find items like office supplies and furniture, book shelves, tables and chairs through the online public auction, and public surplus.
  3. Reuse party decor. Choose reusable tablecloths, napkins and utensils over disposable options. And don’t forget to save those party hats and favors for the next party.
  4. Reuse packaging at home. Try turning a glass pasta sauce jar into a plant pot. Or using empty cereal bags for small bathroom trash cans. Before you throw something away, perhaps it can be used again.
  5. Donate books and magazines. You may not want your old magazines or books, but the library might. The Friends of the Library organization accepts donations of printed materials, as well as art work, CDs/DVDs, audio tapes, records, puzzles, games, and computer software.

Recycle

Alachua County is one of Florida’s greatest recycling communities. Let’s keep improving our recycling efforts with these five easy ways to recycle everyday items.

  1. Use your ORANGE BIN for cardboard boxes, paperboard, newspapers, magazines, phone books, office paper, junk mail and paper bags, and set it out by 7am on your collection day.
  2. Use your BLUE BIN for glass bottles and jars, as well as plastic bottles and tubs. You can also recycle metal cans, food and beverage cartons. Set it out by 7am on your collection day.
  3. Recycle your electronics. Residents can drop off all electronic items for free at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center.  Recycling electronics we no longer use keeps toxins out of the environment and reduces the need to mine for metals and minerals needed to make new items.
  4. Recycle the cardboard from deliveries. Cardboard is recycled in your Orange Bin. For curbside collection, flatten empty boxes into pieces no larger than 4 ft. by 4 ft. and remove any plastic film or packing materials.
  5. Recycle gift wrap. Plain wrapping paper can also be recycled using your Orange Bin. However, foil, glossy or glitter paper and ribbons or bows are not accepted.

For more information on ways to Reduce, Reuse or Recycle an item – visit our  Zero Waste Wizard.

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    For garbage cart or recycling bin requests, please call Alachua County’s Office of Waste Collection (352-338-3233).

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