Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

posted Aug 20, 2012, 11:22 AM by Keith Groninger   [ updated Sep 21, 2012, 6:40 AM ]

Step 1: REDUCE the Amount and Toxicity of Trash You Discard
It is always better to prevent the generation of waste in the first place. This approach is good for your wallet as well as the environment. Reducing waste should occur during the entire lifecycle of a product starting with the manufacturing process.
Look for and support manufacturers:
  • whose production processes promote the use of non-toxic or less-toxic substances,
  • implement conservation techniques
  • and re-use waste materials generated in the production process rather then putting them in the waste stream.
As a consumer, here are a few questions you can ask before you purchase a product to help reduce waste:
  • Do I, or the other person I am buying this for, really need this product?
  • How much of it do I need to do the job at hand?
  • Is there another product that would do the same thing more efficiently or effectively?
  • Will this last a long time?
  • Do I know how this item was made, how it will be used and how it will be disposed of?
  • Was this product made in a way that uses resources wisely?
  • Is this item available with less packaging or is the packaging recyclable?
For more information:

Step 2: REUSE, Repair or Donate Containers and Products
Try to buy items that are durable, maintain them and have them repaired when necessary. If this is done, many things cannot only last a lifetime, but can be passed along from generation to generation. If something is truly unusable for its original purpose, try to think of how else it might be used. When you can no longer use a product, consider giving it to charity. Reusing products, when possible, is even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again, which saves both energy and natural resources.
Here are some easy ways to reuse:
  • Use a mug or glass instead of disposable cups.
  • Use reusable water bottles rather then disposable plastic bottles.
  • Reuse plastic and paper bags from the store or bring your own canvas bag.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries instead of disposable, one-time-use batteries.
  • Borrow, rent or share items that are used infrequently.
  • Donate your used or surplus building materials including appliances, hardware, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, etc.
  • Where possible, repair worn shoes, boots, handbags, briefcases, watches and electronics.
One Person’s Trash is Another Person’s Treasure
Many of your gently used items can be reused.
  • Clothes Donation - If you have old clothes, consider donating them to local charity.
  • Clothes Resale - Resell your gently used clothes in consignment stores and stop in to see if you can get some bargains of your own. Check the Internet or the yellow pages under consignment.
  • Used and Surplus Building Supplies - If you are remodeling your home, explore Montgomery County's Don't Dump, Donate! program to learn how to donate building materials in usable condition.
  • Used Books and Household Items - Stop by the Rockville Senior Center to donate used books and household items.
  • Everything Else including Furniture - If you are looking for someone to pick up and reuse your old furniture, search Montgomery County’s "Use It Again" Database.

Step 3: RECYCLE as Much as Possible; Buy Recycled Products
Recycling means taking a product or material at the end of its useful life and turning it into a usable raw material to make another product.
Recyclables generally follow a three-step process to be reinvented into a new product. First, the recyclables are collected from the curb outside your house and are sent to a materials recovery facility to be sorted and prepared into raw materials for manufacturing. Next, these recycled, raw materials are re-manufactured into new products. Finally, the new products are purchased by consumers and used again. "Buying recycled" keeps recycling in demand and plays an essential role in making the recycling process a success.
Rockville now implements a "single-stream" recycling program in which mixed paper (paper, cardboard and bulk mail) and commingled recyclables (aluminum cans, glass bottles and all forms of plastics) can all be placed in one cart for curbside pickup.

Recyclables the City collects include:
  • Aluminum cans and foil,
  • Paper products including paperback books, junk mail, magazines, shredded paper (in paper bag please), catalogs and newspapers including inserts
  • Cardboard
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Aerosol cans (empty)
  • Seasonal collections such as holiday trees and leaves, yard trimmings, grass cuttings and branches
  • All plastic containers including peanut butter jars, margarine/butter tubs and prescription bottles. Lids and caps do not need to be removed before recycling.
  • Rigid plastic items including milk/soda crates, buckets with metal handles, laundry baskets, lawn furniture, coolers, flowerpots, drinking cups, toys and empty plastic garbage/recycling bins.
  • Plastic film, which includes grocery bags, bubble wrap and newspaper sleeves, shrink-wrap. These items must be grouped and placed into one bag for collection.
For a complete list of materials the City of Rockville accepts for recycling, as well as for curbside pickup schedules, please see the City’s Refuse and Recycling Guide.
The City adopted an ordinance, effective September 2008, which allows Montgomery County to administer its commercial and multi-family dwelling recycling program within City limits. The county program requires multi-family dwellings with seven or more units in a building and all commercial entities regardless of size to recycle at least 50 percent of their solid wastes by weight or volume. Larger businesses (those with 100 or more employees) and multi-family dwellings (those with 101 units or more) also will be required to prepare a recycling plan and report annually to the county.

For more information on recycling requirements for commercial and multi-dwelling homes visit the following websites:
For more general information on recycling:

Recycling Includes Composting
Composting is the controlled biological decomposition of organic matter, such as food and yard waste, into humus, a soil-like material. Composting returns needed organic matter to the soil. While improving the soil for gardens, composting also reduces the amount of material going to the transfer station.
Grass-cycle: leave the height of your grass long when mowing and leave clippings on your lawn to decompose. "Grass-cycling" provides your lawn with a great source of nitrogen and saves water and fertilizer.