As U.S. PIRG’s consumer campaign director, I work primarily on consumer finance and data security issues. But I spend a lot of my personal time looking into ways to minimize the environmental and health impacts of my own consumption as a consumer.
So when Alex Truelove, our zero waste campaign director, asked if I would help celebrate my favorite government mascot’s birthday by sharing the zero-waste tips I have made a part of my life, I was owl about it (Get it?).
Learn from Woodsy
Did you know the U.S. Forest Service has had an official anti-pollution mascot since 1971 who teaches kids about composting?? Woodsy Owl is Smokey Bear’s buddy. He teaches kids the 4 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. And his birthday is today, September 15th!
Reduce your waste: Discover the joys of glass jars and safety razors
I won’t be fitting all my trash into a single Mason jar, but I have discovered the joys of reducing some of my plastic packaging waste by shopping with jars in the bulk dry goods aisle of my grocery store.
I have also replaced my disposable plastic razors with a safety razor.
Find a new home for your stuff
You can donate your items or join online gift economy groups like Buy Nothing to give and receive used and unused items.
Consider your composting options
For example, my hometown of Washington, D.C. has free food waste drop-off sites at farmers markets on the weekends, a rebate program for home composting systems, and paid services that will pick up your food scraps.
I keep my food scraps in a glass container in my freezer, which is a game changer — no smell, no bugs!
Look up where to safely discard your waste
For example, the D.C. government provides a search tool that will tell you how to discard different household items, including electronics, hazardous materials, prescription drugs, and bulk trash.
You can also look up recycling drop-off locations for your plastic bags and packaging, which typically don’t get recycled in curbside bins.
As you can see, there are simple steps you can take to cut down on your waste. I’m sure Woodsy appreciates it.
Image source: Forest Service, USDA, Public Domain
Director, Consumer Campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Mike directs U.S. PIRG’s national campaign to protect consumers on Wall Street and in the financial marketplace by defending the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and works for stronger privacy protections and corporate accountability in the wake of the Equifax data breach. Mike lives in Washington, D.C.