Waste Wise

March 7, 2016

Waste Wise

The average person generates more than four pounds of waste each day — and more than half of that waste goes to a landfill!  The goal of environmentally sustainable waste management is to minimize the amount of waste and debris hauled to landfills and to maximize reduction. Waste reduction includes waste prevention, recycling, composting and the purchase of goods that have recycled content or produce less waste.  Waste reduction slows the depletion of natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with extraction, production, transportation, and disposal of materials, reduce pollution and conserves valuable landfill space.

What CA is Doing

CA actively works to manage its waste in a sustainable manner. From scrap metal recovery to plant material mulching and composting, CA is helping to reuse resources and divert materials away from landfills. These efforts help to reduce CA’s indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with raw material production and landfill disposal.

CA also provides recycling stations throughout our facilities and in open space to help members of the community manage their waste in an environmentally friendly manner. Pet waste management stations have also been installed, and fishing line recycling stations have been provided at some of our lakes and ponds.

Additional waste reduction techniques Columbia Association has employed include:

  • Leaf composting for soil and processing for mulch
  • Recycling of scrap metal, tires, and fluorescent tube light bulbs
  • Recycling batteries
  • Collecting empty printer cartridges to be refilled with ink
  • Recycling all containers and pots from open space operations
  • Purchasing materials and products from that utilize post-consumer recycled materials whenever possible

What Columbia Residents Can Do

Columbia residents can help our community be “waste wise” by practicing waste reduction techniques and using tools that are readily available.  Recycling containers provided by CA in facilities and open space should be used as much as possible to maximize the waste reduction stream. The robust waste management programs offered by Howard County offer a multitude of ways to handle waste in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The old adage of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” succinctly captures how we can more effectively manage the waste we generate.

Reducing and Reusing – The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy: raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated and then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reducing and reusing are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money. Here are a few ideas on how residents can reduce and reuse:

  • Buy used. You can find everything from clothes to building materials at specialized reuse centers and consignment shops. Often, used items are less expensive and just as good as new.
  • Look for products that use less packaging. When manufacturers make their products with less packaging, they use less raw material. This reduces waste and costs. These extra savings can be passed along to the consumer. Buying in bulk, for example, can reduce packaging and save money.
  • Buy reusable items instead of disposable items. Look for items that can be reused; the little things can add up. For example, you can bring your own silverware and cup to work, rather than using disposable items.
  • Maintain and repair products, like clothing, tires, and appliances, so that they won’t have to be thrown out and replaced as frequently.
  • Borrow, rent, or share items that are used infrequently, like party decorations, tools, or furniture.

Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can significantly benefit your community and the environment.  Here are a few ideas on how residents can recycle:

  • Segregate recyclable materials and make sure they enter the “recycling” waste stream through the blue bins or other containers.
  • Compost materials at home or through Howard County’s pilot composting program.


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