Better Habits Can Create Less Waste

Blog | Posted on: July 12, 2019

Greetings Reuse Fans,

There has certainly been a lot of discussion in the news lately about the challenge of dealing with waste. The world’s population is now generating 2 billion tons of trash. The systems that we have in place to reuse, recycle and compost waste are not adequate to address the volume of waste we generate in the US. 

Industrialized countries like the US, until quite recently used to rely on China to take our recyclables, but because of contamination of our “recyclables” China, and other countries are not accepting our plastic. Some countries, like the Philippines, just returned 69 containers of contaminated plastics back to Canada. 

City of Pittsburgh recycling center in CJ parking lot has added a large bin for glass recycling.

Contamination is a major issue for recycling. You are seeing the recycling containers outside of CJ asking the public to be more conscientious about the recyclables you are dropping off. To be an effective recycler, simply pay attention to the signage that specifically tells you what will be accepted at the drop off facility, not what you hope should be recyclable. 

Reuse of building materials has the same contamination challenges. We recently received a call for a theater set to be donated to CJ. The action was responsible and laudable, but the next question is can the set be reused? Can it be taken apart and reassembled? If it has been constructed with adhesives it cannot be deconstructed and reused. You have to start the design process with the intent to deconstruct. 

Deconstruction Begins On The CMU Solar House
The CMU Solar Decathlon House was designed to be deconstructed.

We need to think about the end use of more of the items we purchase and make or build. Is it durable? Can it be repaired? Can it be composted or recycled—unfortunately the recycling question has gotten a lot more complicated, so use organizations like the Pennsylvania Resources Council to get clarity so you can be a responsible recycler. 

At CJ, we have spent the last 20 years creating infrastructure for the region to address waste that should be reused, recycled or composted. Keep supporting us so we can keep working on the challenge of “waste.”   

And, please, remember before you buy or construct new, consider what will happen when you are done using that item or structure. We have a big trend to reverse.

Thanks for choosing reuse and being a part of the solution.

Mike Gable

Executive Director