During this challenging time, moving toward zero waste may not be at the top of our to-do lists. The COVID-19 restrictions — such as reducing trips to the store, the ban on reusable bags and cups, and the closing of drop-off facilities — present multiple challenges to our usual waste reduction habits. But it is still possible — and desirable! — to waste as little as possible as we strive to stay healthy and sane. Below are tips to encourage waste prevention, reuse, and proper recycling as we all shelter at home.
1. Prevent Food Waste
These days we may be buying more at each trip to the store, so we don’t go as often. We are preparing most, if not all meals, at home. It is more important than ever to shop smart, store food correctly, understand expiration dates, and use up what we have at home before it spoils.
See this page for more tips on food waste prevention.
2. Deliver Bags and Boxes to the Right Place
As we order more online and temporarily can’t use our reusable bags at stores, paper and plastic bags and cardboard boxes are piling up! Here’s what you can do:
Store and reuse bags:
- Paper bags can hold kitchen scraps for compost.
- Plastic bags are not recyclable in your curbside cart. Use them to store fruit and vegetables in the fridge and to dispose of pet waste.
- Many shoppers are choosing, when possible, to just put their items back into their cart or basket without taking a bag, and then pack up items in their car or bicycle.
Reuse or recycle cardboard boxes:
- Keep those boxes to store the items planned for donation (see below).
- Break down delivery boxes and fit into recycling bins, making sure the lid closes.
3. Spring Cleaning? Collect, Sort and Store
After staying at home for weeks, you may be more aware of clutter and be moved to remove! During the shelter-at-home order, many facilities for drop-off and donation are closed or reducing services, including those that collect paint, batteries, bulbs, hazardous waste and e-waste. At this time, it’s best to collect, sort and store your no-longer-needed items to take for reuse, recycling and donation after we get the all-clear.
Goodwill is open for sales online and offers contact-free donation centers in Mill Valley and Novato only. Learn more.
4. Zero Waste Yard Work
Some of us have more time these days to spend in the yard and garden. Here are some tips:
- Yard and garden waste, such as clippings, flowers, grass and leaves, can go in your green cart.
- Maybe now’s the time to start composting at home! See tips here.
- Time to move along those tired pots or that statue that no longer appeals? Place them in your “to donate” box and find them a new home when the stay-at-home is lifted.
- Some things never change! Pet waste should always, always go in the garbage.
Hang in there, Marin! Thanks for keeping Zero Waste essential!