How Hoosiers can reduce
For individuals, cutting Indianas waste at the source -- or source reduction -- means:
For industries it means that and more:
Why havent I heard about source reduction before?
Few local governments have invested seriously in source reduction, largely because of low public awareness and lack of proof of its effectiveness. Relatively few case studies of successful source reduction programs are available.
Source reduction is not a new concept, though. It is just harder to quantify than some of the other methods of waste management -- recycling or even landfilling. Costs and benefits of landfills and waste-to-energy plants are easy to calculate, and recycling results can be measured by how many households take part and by how much recyclable material is collected.
Without proof that source reduction can work and be cost-effective, local governments understandably shy away from committing to it. The few communities that have tried to monitor source reduction and quantify program results have produced mixed results.
Another reason source reduction may be unfamiliar has to do with our market economy. Consumption is seen as good for the economy. In such an atmosphere, source reduction may be criticized as anti-prosperity or anti-progress. Making better use of our resources is really a test of our ingenuity. We should be able to sustain economic growth while using less by creating better, not more, products. Businesses can become more competitive and individual consumers more prosperous by using resources more efficiently and creating less waste.
No doubt about it: Cutting Indianas waste will improve the quality of life and make our state a more desirable place to build a business and a future.
Source reduction happens at several points
Source reduction strategies can be used at any of three stages to cut solid and hazardous waste:
- Design the manufacturing process to reduce waste.
- Design the product for long-term use, not disposal.
- Use material efficiently in the product.
- Avoid over-packaging a product.
- Make items available in bulk or concentrated form.
- Make refillable containers available.
- Minimize repackaging (for example, fruits and vegetables in the grocery).
- Choose products in refillable containers and return them for reuse.
- Choose longer-life, repairable products and maintain them to prolong usefulness.
- Be careful while using a product to avoid wasting it.
- Extend the life of used items by redistributing them through second-hand stores, garage sales and donations to charitable organizations.
How one solid waste management district is helping Hoosiers reduce
One of the cost-effective source reduction programs is the Northeast Indiana Solid Waste Management District has going is its effort to promote backyard composting and proper lawn-clipping management.
The NISWMD has conducted a series of four workshops on backyard composting and lawn care, with one held in each of the four counties in the district. The workshops were a cooperative effort between the NISWMD and the respective Purdue University extension office.
The workshops were held at permanent backyard compost demonstration sites, located at four district-run community compost facilities. At each of these locations, examples of commercially available compost bins, as well as do-it-yourself models, were displayed.
Workshop participants were taught basic principles of lawn-clipping management and "grass-cycling," an overview of the solid waste dilemma and the impact of Indianas yard waste ban for landfills, principles of composting, advantages and disadvantages of various compost bin designs, and uses of compost and mulch around the home.
To further educate and increase participation, a more comprehensive session on other lawn-care practices was also conducted at each workshop. The session included a demonstration and discussion of mulching mowers.
As an incentive to put their new skills to work, workshop participants entered a drawing for a free compost bin, compliments of the solid waste district.
For more information, call Barry Bender, education coordinator, NISWMD, 219-925-4857.