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#SummerScienceFriday | Reducing Your Trash Footprint

Glendale Narrows after a storm. Image Source: CWH Staff

This week, after more than a decade at this location, CWH is moving out of our office in the Metropolitan Water District building and into a much cozier space. And as anyone who’s moved before knows, once you start packing, you are suddenly confronted with all the items that you’ve acquired over the years. What do you do with all of it? While we’re donating as much as we can, there are some things- like paper- that cannot be reused. This got us thinking: how can we reduce the amount of trash we produce and move towards “zero-waste”? Hint: the answer is starting to look like preventing it in the first place.

Reducing trash in the region is crucial to enhancing the health of our watersheds. Trash is swept up off the streets by runoff, making its way into the river and eventually the ocean. In fact, 200 tons of trash are captured by trash nets every year, combined, from Ballona Creek and the LA River (LA County DPW). The majority of this trash, which ends up in the river and ocean, is plastic. That’s because plastic takes many years to decompose. By 2050, it is estimated that all the plastic in the ocean will literally outweigh the fish (New Plastics Economy). Studies by the Ghent University in Belgium and Plymouth University found that the fish that people are eating may contain an alarming amount of microplastics, which come from plastic waste in the environment. To combat issues such as this, people around the world are working to reduce waste and move toward more sustainable practices.

This waste hierarchy can help us make better choices to reduce waste. The pyramid tells us that the best practice is to prevent waste in the first place.

Image Source: Rethink Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Here in California, a regional trash reduction effort is underway:

  • The state of California has set a goal of 75% recycling, composting, and source reduction of solid waste by 2020, decreasing reliance on landfills statewide.

  • CalRecycle estimates that 80 million tons of solid waste will be generated in 2020.

  • That means an additional 23 million tons will need to be recycled, reduced or composted in 2020 to reach the statewide goal.

  • Additionally, the City of LA put forward the Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan (SWIRP), commonly known as the City’s Zero Waste Plan, with the goal of diverting 95% of the City’s waste to new solid waste infrastructure by 2025 (LA Sanitation).

To help all of us move forward with these goals, we have compiled tips about how you can reduce your waste on an individual level with zero waste alternatives!

Tip: click on the slideshow to make it bigger!

Zero Waste, Recycling, & Composting Resources

There are a lot of zero waste resources out there such as recycling programs, zero-waste bloggers, YouTube videos, and Instagram accounts. Here a few of those resources:


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