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Waste Reduction and Recycling: Neighborhood Collaboration

You may think waste reduction is an individual effort, but collaborating with your neighbors to develop strategies will have a multiplier effect. By conducting a waste audit and talking to your neighbors, you may discover someone has a use for your waste. Explore the ideas below and utilize the resources to help get you started.

Conduct a neighborhood waste audit. Learning how your neighborhood uses energy will help you make choices about how to make reductions. Encourage neighbors to write down everything they throw away for one week. Conduct a survey and gather the data to review waste habits and determine if items can be recycled or reused instead of thrown away. You can also identify disposable products that can be replaced with reusable items. This is the first step to developing neighborhood waste reduction strategies. 

Become a Master Recycler. Master Recyclers are specially-trained volunteers who give presentations about recycling to civic, neighborhood and other community groups, and who help staff outreach events. A Master Recycler is a trained expert on recycling in Tucson and is a valuable asset to Tucson and the planet! If you are interested in signing up for Master Recycler training, call 791-5000 or e-mail recycle@ci.tucson.az.us.

Develop a neighborhood recycling education program. Many people don’t recycle because they don’t know how. Be a leader and use your Master Recyclers training to conduct educational workshops and/or distribute educational materials to encourage recycling. Visit Tucson Recycles for information and materials you can download.

Establish a neighborhood Freecycle network. Your trash may be another person’s treasure. Make connections and find uses for items you would otherwise throw away. For example, you may have a neighbor that ships boxes frequently and can use your shredded paper waste or you may have a neighbor that is a teacher and can use your old magazines for classroom projects. You can also encourage neighbors to join The Freecycle Network to find people outside your neighborhood that can use unwanted items.

Create a neighborhood composting site. Include composting in a neighborhood garden or connect with neighbors that want to compost in their private gardens and can use your organic waste.

Visit howtocompost.org for information about composting.

Create a neighborhood exchange. It doesn’t make sense for everybody in the neighborhood to own the same set of tools, or items such as lawn mowers or ladders. Create a neighborhood exchange where items are shared. You can pool your money to make bigger purchases from which multiple people can benefit.

Host a neighborhood Household Hazardous Waste Day when neighbors can drop off their hazardous waste for proper disposal. Click here for information and contacts for hazardous waste drop-offs.

Host a neighborhood clean-up day. Waste management isn’t just reducing how much you throw away, it’s also removing litter and making sure waste is properly disposed. Spend the morning with your neighbors picking up litter and keep your neighborhood looking beautiful. Don’t forget to recycle items you collect!

Learn from Community Models. People throughout the community are working together to make Tucson more sustainable. Learn from their projects and use the strategies in your neighborhood.