Waste Reduction: How to Make a Difference

March 8, 2024
By: Rebecca Haug, Sr. Project Manager, WSB

The amount of waste in communities continues to increase. Many community members aren’t aware of where our waste goes. In a majority of the states our waste fills up landfills, taking valuable land space and requiring extensive engineering and monitoring to protect our environment. Both landfills and waste to energy facilities are used at the same time to reduce the use of landfills. Waste to energy facilities are costly to run and necessitate careful air quality monitoring to protect public health. 

To reduce cost and risk, increase operational efficiencies, and be a strong community leader, WSB is conscious of the waste that is generated every day, and we work with clients on waste reduction strategies. We are taking the opportunity to look at how we contribute to food, paper, plastic, and other wastes. To improve on waste management, we are focusing on pragmatic changes and also encourage community members to do what they can. There are various tactics to make a difference in the amount of waste we generate. Below are a few that can make an impactful difference for events and operations:

  • Rethink if you need to purchase an item in the first place. Is there something you could repurpose or re-use?
  • Think upstream and design the event, process, system, or product for recycling and re-use downstream. If you buy or design something differently, how can it be repurposed down the road instead of ending up in a landfill?
  • Buy second-hand items.
  • Participate in local organics composting program to keep food waste out of landfills and allow it to be turned back into a soil amendment. Check with your community about these programs.
  • Store leftovers in reusable containers to reduce waste.
  • Bring a waste free lunch to work by purchasing in bulk and putting foods in reusable containers.
  • Work with local vendors and caterers to reduce disposables and increase re-usable food service, catering and event supplies.
  • Say no to plastic straws when eating out, this helps environmental waste.
  • Buy in bulk to reduce purchasing products with a lot of packaging. Excessive packaging fills up landfills and is harmful to earth’s ecosystems.
  • Recycle plastic bags to reduce waste of resources and landfill.

There are many other programs and initiatives to advance strategic, comprehensive community goals that are the focus of WSB’s services to write Climate and Sustainability Plans. Many cities where we live, and work have these plans in place written by consultants like WSB and other firms; participating in your local community to advance the waste and climate portions of the City plans will offer another avenue to engage with local leaders. There are many more areas where you can reduce waste. The Environmental Protection Agency provides more ideas here: Reducing Waste: What You Can Do | US EPA

We can all make a difference and reduce our waste generation by making changes, big or small. We encourage everyone to try a few this year. If your business is interested in learning about the ways we’ve helped our clients with waste reduction strategies, please contact us

Rebecca is a senior project manager in the water resources field with over 25 years of experience. She has worked closely with water resources issues at the county, city, and watershed district level. She has managed stormwater management relating to MS4 permitting, wetlands, floodplain, and drainage.

[email protected] | 763.438.7475

Related Insights

We've got our eyes on the horizon.

All Insights