Get a handle on your trash!

We all have to get rid of stuff, whether it’s because it’s old like clothing, smelly like food waste, or just not something we need anymore. But throwing everything in the garbage isn’t sustainable. Are you looking for more ways to get rid of stuff? We have a guide for you.

Our infographic is easy to cut out for your fridge or someplace else, and shows the top kinds of waste we generate, and how to reduce it through refusing, reusing, repairing, regifting, recovering, and recycling (more on each of these below).

Why not just put everything in the trash?

How many reasons do you need? If you are focused on money and taxes, it actually costs money to throw things away, so less trash means lower costs for us and the city. If you love the earth or health, less garbage means less put into landfills, which can leach into water supplies. Some people like the challenge of reducing waste. And if you’re into organization, it can be fun to sort things.

How can we reduce what we throw in the trash?

The six Rs get us started.

To start, you can refuse to get things at all, like unnecessary items, wrapping, or plastics. We did a series on this a few years ago if you want tips (visit

Try reusing things until they’re worn out when possible, by buying reusable rather than disposable, for example.

Repairing extends the life of electronics, furnishings, and other items, potentially for years, with a little paint, glue, or nails.

Regifting takes things we just don’t use anymore and gives them to others who might want them, like through “buy less” Facebook groups or charities.

Recovering allows us to separate recyclables or other useful items from something at the end of its life.

And when all else fails, we can recycle some items, like glass and metal, as well as some electronics and even plastic bags.

Recycling FAQs

Recycling provides an opportunity to avoid creating garbage, but only when we are careful.

Don’t wish-cycle – just because you want something to be recycled doesn’t mean it can be. Pay attention to what is accepted, because adding more items actually costs more and can lead businesses and governments to stop recycling.

Be aware of the limits of recycling – things like glass and metals can be recycled many times, but plastics have more limited lives. Most plastics are “downcycled” into goods that won’t be recycled again, like bags and jackets. You can find more information on the Greenification page at

More information

Our Greenification webpage has more links and information, including upcoming paper shredding events by the county (Nov. 20, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.), schedules for trash and recycling pickup, and more on some of the topics above.