Recycling your stuff should be easy, but recycling alone won’t solve our waste problems. Our produce it, consume it, toss it out system needs to be redesigned to eliminate waste at its source. For instance, manufacturers need to take more responsibility for the full life cycle of their products. So this “Recycle Anything” guide provides resources for Texans to divert as much as possible from our landfills, with an emphasis on waste prevention and manufacturer-based recycling programs whenever possible. Yes, you should recycle as much as possible, but there’s much more we can do to prevent our trash troubles. So let’s make waste a thing of the past.
Why Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?
Landfills in Texas are, literally, a growing problem. The Lone Star State alone has 12 landfills towering above 200 feet tall. And they’re much more than unappealing eyesores: waste and landfills are leading contributors to global climate change, air, soil and water pollution, and unsustainable consumption patterns. To make matters worse, Texas’ environmental standards for landfills are among the weakest in the nation. In addition, many consumer products contain toxic materials and are difficult to recycle, and their producers typically pay none of the high cost this creates. Combine this with heavy tax subsidies for landfill space, and we’re left with a current system in which dumping trash in a landfill is far more profitable than recycling it – up to ten times more profitable, according to industry insiders. This is a huge reason why recycling programs aren’t available in every community, home and business.
We can do better. Trash and landfills aren’t inevitable or necessary: waste is simply a design flaw, one that can and must be solved if we are to create a sustainable future. But we need to think beyond traditional recycling ideals and get to the root of the problem, because recycling alone won’t solve the design flaws that create so much waste in the first place. “Zero Waste” proponents are working to strengthen environmental laws for landfills, to create “producer take-back” programs in which manufacturers are held responsible for recovering and recycling their products, and reminding communities that the best way to eliminate waste is to think reduce/reuse as a first option.
There are many organizations working in Texas, nationwide and even globally to stop waste at its source and create a more sustainable future. Here are just a few. Join the effort today!
Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund — the author of this webpage, TCE Fund works to promote recycling, waste reduction, sustainable product design and zero waste solutions in Texas.
The Story of Stuff — an amazing, must-watch internet video that makes consumption and waste easy to understand, and easy to fight.
Texas Product Stewardship Council — a group of local government officials and community leaders working to make more manufacturers responsible for recycling the products they create.
Central Texas Zero Waste Alliance — committed to the realization of a sustainable Zero Waste (or darn close) economy in Central Texas before 2040.