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Waste reduction in Boston


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The City has already begun implementing our Zero Waste strategy, but we can’t do it without you.

Boston’s first-ever zero waste plan, designed to move Boston towards becoming a zero waste city, was released in June 2019. This plan includes near- and long-term strategies for reducing waste in the City. Key pieces of the plan include expanding Boston’s composting program, increasing access to recycling opportunities and launching a city-wide education campaign on recycling.

The City has already begun implementing the Zero Waste strategy, but we can’t do it without you. This vision centers around residents of the City taking important steps to reduce their waste by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Here are ways that you can reduce waste in Boston today to help the City become a Zero Waste City:

Bring your own — bag, mug, cup, etc:

The best way to help Boston meet the goals laid out in Zero Waste Boston is to reduce consumption upfront. Boston’s Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance supports residents to bring their own bag but taking your own mug, cups, silverware, and more will reduce your overall consumption and therefore waste in the City as a whole. 

Attend a Fix-it clinic:

In the classic waste reduction catch phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle,” the reuse part can be hard. Perhaps it’s a lack of information about the options for using a certain object or maybe it’s simply not having the right tools at your disposal. Regardless of the reason, attending a “Fix-it clinic” is a fantastic way to learn new Do It Yourself tips and tricks for reusing, borrow tools, and get to know other creative and sustainability minded people in the City. View the Greenovate Calendar for the upcoming Fix-it Clinic schedule

Compost Your Food Scraps:

Approximately 36% of the materials that are currently discarded in Boston are potentially compostable. When items are composted correctly in Boston however, it is used in many community gardens and parks across the City. There are four ways to compost in the City: 

  • Take your compost to a Project Oscar location: With locations strategically positioned around the City, Project Oscar gives communities a place to drop-off residential food scraps for composting. Use this mapping tool of Project Oscar locations to find the closest bin to you
  • Compost in your backyard: If you have a backyard space, you can take your indoor compost out yourself and use the nutrient rich soil to build a garden. Learn more about backyard composting here
  • Turn your yard waste into compost: Boston’s excess yard material is composted at a site off of American Legion Highway. Check out the 2019 yard waste calendar
  • Sign up for curbside composting: There are several private companies based in Boston that charge a small fee to come and pick up your food scraps for your front door.
Attend a Hazardous and Electronic Waste pickup:

Public Works holds drop-off days for household hazardous waste four times a year. Bringing your hazardous waste to an official pick up event ensure that it’s safely disposed of. Search for upcoming events online

Recycle Right:

Reducing contamination in recycling is one of the best things you can do to help the City meet our zero waste goals. Learn what you can and can’t recycle here, or by using the City’s trash app.

Zero waste means reducing, repairing, and reusing the materials in our lives. The Zero Waste Boston initiatives strives to move Boston toward zero waste through planning, policy, and community engagement. Learn more at Zero Waste Boston.

Read the full Zero Waste Boston Plan.

Zero Waste Boston
Want to get more involved?

Learn more about Greenovate Boston.

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