Waste Management collects trash and recycling bins on May 26 in Canyon Country. Emily Alvarenga/The Signal

Ways to reduce garbage buildup

By Raychel Stewart

For the Signal

Homeowners may notice the trash constantly needs to be taken out. Everyday products, leftover foods and holiday packaging can fill up trash cans instantly. With many resources in the area and a few tips, Santa Clarita residents can reduce the amount of household garbage produced each year.

The average American can produce nearly 6 pounds of waste per day, according to a study done by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Multiply that by the population in the U.S. and the amount of garbage produced each year amounts to more than 250 million tons. The same study concluded only one-third of all waste gets recycled each year.

Although modern sanitation systems can remove waste from households in a timely manner, there are some things that can be done to reduce the garbage buildup from each home.

First thing is to recycle as much as you can. Take some time to separate recyclable products from non-recyclable ones and place them in the correct bins. There are lists on Waste Management’s website that will itemize what can and cannot be recycled. This includes certain metals, cardboard, glass, plastics, batteries and electronics: wm.com/us/local/ca/santa-clarita/residential.

Green-waste bins are available for homeowners where grass clippings, leaves, weeds, shrubbery and tree trimmings can be picked up for recycling along with weekly standard  garbage collection.

If certain items are not eligible for curbside pickup, or if you wish to recycle products yourself, the city of Santa Clarita’s website provides a list of facilities that will take items based on the product type. People can take their plastic bottles and aluminum cans to recycling centers to redeem the California Redemption Value (CRV). Many retailers have reusable water bottles made from metal that can be reused for years, reducing the need to purchase plastic water bottles.

Avoid purchasing disposable products. Reusing items or packaging can significantly reduce the amount of everyday garbage buildup. Many products are packaged in plastic, which can release harmful chemicals into the environment and take decades to decompose. If items are purchased, there are some things that can be done to avoid throwing them away.

Old rags or torn clothing are perfect for cleaning and can be washed. The key to reducing waste is to reuse products instead of throwing it away when it’s past its prime.

Before throwing a product away, if broken, take some time to see if the product can be fixed. A simple fix can possibly make a product last a few more years.

When cooking, stick to appropriate portion sizes. Approximately one-third of produced food goes to waste globally each year, according to the United Nations Environmental Program. If cooking leads to leftovers, be sure to package it properly and choose to consume them before cooking a new meal.

Another option for food waste is to repurpose it into fertilizer for gardens. Egg shells, fruit rinds and coffee grinds can be composted instead of being tossed in the garbage.

Purchase reusable bags for shopping. About eight million tons of plastic bags have ended up in oceans, according to a study done by Coastal Care, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness for ocean pollution. Plastic bags can also be donated back to retailers for recycling.

Some companies will offer discounts or special offers if customers opt in to paperless statements. Also, contact companies to remove your name from lists of junk mail. If you find an accumulation of paper waste, it can be repurposed into packaging materials.

Lastly, donate. Items such as books, clothing, toys, household items and furniture can be donated to local organizations at no cost. Instead of products going to landfills, they can be reused by another person.

By taking some small steps, households can reduce the amount of garbage produced significantly, which can improve the environment.

For more information on what can and cannot be recycled, and where to take recyclables, visit the Green Santa Clarita webpage at http://greensantaclarita.com/recycling/

Metro Creative contributed to this report.

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