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The Big Shrink
We all play a part in reducing Hawaii's opala.
Hawaii’s Big Shrink, the effort to reduce our opala (trash), is underway. Our state’s recycling rates remain above the national average and the City & County of Honolulu plans to add another 20,000 households to its curbside-recycling program in the near future. By 2013, Honolulu expects to increase the solid waste diverted from the landfill to 75 percent.
There’s still much to be done. “Everything we use must be put somewhere when we no longer need it,” says Gary Gill, deputy director of environmental health administration for the Hawaii State Department of Health.
“On an island, there is no place 'away' to throw things away. We should all consume less, reduce the amount of waste we generate, and reuse and recycle everything else.”
Here’s how you can help :
• Reduce. Start at the source and decrease the trash you produce daily.
- Go for reusable dishes, flatware, food and beverage containers and grocery bags.
- Replace paper towels, plastic bags and other single-use items with reusable items.
- Buy products with minimal packaging and buy in bulk.
- Cut down on waste by using just enough soap, detergent, cleaning supplies and other household items. This saves money, too.
• Reuse. Use items such as gift packaging and scrap paper as many times as possible before recycling or tossing away. Donate clothing, accessories and household items to worthy causes or sell or swap unwanted items at consignment shops, garage sales or on websites such as freecycle.org or Craigslist.org.
• Compost. Turn kitchen scraps and yard waste into rich planting material through vermicomposting (worm bins) or an at-home composting bin. For more information on vermicomposting or to pick up supplies, visit waikikiworm.com. If you have curbside recycling, throw waste from yard work into the “green bin” for pickup. No bin? Drop off your green waste at Hawaiian Earth Products at Campbell Industrial Park, where it will be composted.
• Recycle. Utilize your neighborhood’s curbside recycling program if possible. No curbside? Find a list of drop-off stations, community bins, Hi-5 redemption centers, and refuse and recycling convenience centers at opala.org.
Once you’ve mastered the art of everyday reduction, add these items to your to-do list:
- Just say “no” to plastics and Styrofoam. Both are, for the most part, non-compostable and nonbiodegradable. Buy products with recycled packaging instead.
- Dispose of chemicals properly. Find out how to dispose of common Household Hazardous Waste items at opala.org/solid_waste/Household_Hazardous_Waste.html.
- Leave the e-waste to the experts. Take old phones, computers, portable hard drives, fax machines, rechargeable batteries, printers and the like to a designated e-waste drop-off site. Find out more at opala.org/solid_waste/eWaste.html.
- Don’t dump it! Set out large bulk items, such as old appliances, furniture and fixtures on the first morning of your neighborhood’s bulk-item pickup period. Missed it? Take items to one of Oahu’s six City Convenience Centers. Visit opala.org for Convenience Center locations and bulk-item pickup schedules.
Six Simple Steps … to caring for the aina
1. Clean windows with newspaper. Newspaper is highly absorbent and prevents streaks. Somehow, it doesn’t transfer ink to your window surface. Mix two tablespoons of vinegar in a gallon of water, transfer to a reusable spray bottle and wipe to a shine.
2. Use a handkerchief. They’re back in! Plus, they’re washable, reusable, retro-chic and less expensive over time than pocket tissue packs. You can purchase multipacks for $12 or less at department stores. Or, find funky, fun patterns and homemade designs at etsy.com.
3. Go waste-free at lunch. Start by downloading Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s easy, one-page guide at kokuahawaiifoundation.org/wastefreelunches/.
4. Reuse to wrap. Use old magazine or newspaper pages and even old paper grocery bags to wrap gifts. (The Sunday comics are a classic choice.) Have the kids color and decorate brown-paper packages for fun.
5. Swap out your lint roller. With plastic frames and multiple sticky tear-off sheets, most lint rollers produce a lot of nonbiodegradable trash. Cut waste and save money by purchasing a reusable lint brush. Find options under $10 at amazon.com.
6. Buy recycled toilet paper. “If every household in the United States bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, instead of the typical tissue made from virgin fiber, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution, preserve 356 million gallons (1.35 billion liters) of fresh water and save nearly 1 million trees,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Just for Kids
“Where do things go?” is a fun, interactive game at opala.org. Click on an object and drag it to the proper recycling bin, rubbish bin or truck. Learn what can be recycled, what can be composted and what to do with really big things, like furniture.
The Lorax, a movie based on Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s book, follows Ted, a young resident of Thneed-Ville on his quest for a real tree. On his journey, he meets the Lorax, who fights to save the last real trees left in the world. Find out more at theloraxmovie.com.
365 Ways to Live Green for Kids, by Sheri Amsel, is written for the young reader. Everyday projects, facts, stories, games and tips to help kids lead healthier, greener lives — and spread the word. Available on Barnes & Noble NOOK, Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks. Also available in paperback.
Say “Goodbye” to that Big Yellow Phone Book
Only 18 percent of an EPA-estimated 650,000 tons of phone books are recycled in the U.S. each year, according to treehugger.com. That’s a lot of paper waste heading straight to the landfill. Stop delivery of the big book at yellowpagesoptout.com.
Wrap it with cloth.
Forget single-use wrapping paper, tape and bows. Dish towels with cool patterns, such as those at Target, make fun, functional gift wraps.
Live Happily on Less
The average person uses 20 percent of the things they own 80 percent of the time.
That means the other 80 percent just sits there, collecting dust, and eventually making its way to the landfill. The solution: Acquire and use less. You’ll enjoy a serene home with less clutter, spend less money and contribute less to our overall Opala problem. Get started with The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide, by Francine Jay, which features a room-by-room guide to paring down. More info at missminimalist.com. Available at amazon.com.
Rinse, crumple, repeat.
Crumpled aluminum foil scrubs baked-on food residue off of dishes just as well as steel wool. Try it today!
Hey, Condo Dwellers:
The City & County of Honolulu has recycling programs for you. Get one going at your building. Visit opala.org and click on “Services & Programs,” then “Condo Recycling.”
Find places to get free mulch for your yard or garden at opala.org by clicking on “Services & Programs,” then “Drop-off facilities.”
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