Hannah Scholes 

Are you excited to welcome the new year and put 2020 behind you? We are too. Let’s take a moment to reflect on some positive environmental achievements and make resolutions to continue this important work in 2021. 

One big 2020 win for the environment came in the form of greenhouse gas reductions. People traveled less and reduced commutes by working from home, causing a drop in emissions. 

We also strengthened recycling programs. Private companies and government agencies invested more than $5 billion in recycling technologies and improving recycled material markets. Waste Management is one of the companies working toward these goals and committed to investing more than $100 million every year in recycling technologies and infrastructure  – learn more at sustainability.wm.com

Looking ahead, here are some resolutions to consider for a greener planet.

Step one, take the Recycle Right pledge.

I will always:

• Recycle all my clean and dry bottles, cans, paper and cardboard. 

• Place all recyclables loose in my bin. No plastic bags!

• Educate my friends and family on how to Recycle Right.  

Next, kick your recycling game into action at home! Set up recycling containers around your house in convenient locations. Add a recycling bin to your home office so paper scraps won’t go to waste. Label your bins with easy-to-read signs so even your most recycling-challenged friends and family know what goes where. We recommend keeping a recycling guide on the fridge for good measure! You can design your own labels and print recycling guidelines from wmnorthwest.com

Now that your containers are looking their best, it’s time to tackle those plastic bags. Recyclables should always be loose in your cart, not in plastic bags. Plastic bags in the recycling create big problems at the recycling center by damaging machinery and causing shutdowns. The best plan is to reuse your plastic bags or take them back to a location that accepts the bags for recycling. 

Finally, rethink your purchases with waste reduction and recycling in mind. Remember those big investments to grow recycling markets? You can do your part to keep recycling programs strong, too! Recycling only works if there is demand for recycled materials. When you shop, look for products made with recycled content and opt for reusables instead of single-use items like plastic cutlery.

As you reflect on 2020, take heart in knowing we made it through together, and we kept the environmental movement alive. Here’s to a new year filled with promise and refreshed enthusiasm for recycling and sustainable living.

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. Learn more about waste reduction at wmnorthwest.com.

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