Not being wasteful is cultural trait and a personal responsibility that should guide decisions we make in our lives, businesses, and municipalities. Waste reduction and reuse are always the best ways to maximize the value of our materials, even before recycling and composting. Both waste reduction and reuse efforts, although significant, can’t be easily quantified, so it can be easy to forget about their importance. Recycling is actually the third best option for our waste, and we shouldn’t forget those two top tiers!
By design, many of the items used in our society today are disposable single-use products—items that are destined for the dump after only a brief useful life. A few small examples are things like disposable coffee cups, water bottles, shopping bags, take-out containers, and paper towels. All of these can easily be swapped out for reusable options. Many local jurisdictions are taking action to reduce wastefulness in their communities, and NRCM is providing support for many of these efforts with our Sustainable Maine Communities Toolkits.
Maine’s reuse economy is already thriving in our culture, as shown in our publication, “Portland—Connected by Nature.” It’s not hard to find a swap shop, yard sale, consignment shop, or thrift store in any part of the State—and it’s safe to say that Uncle Henry’s is as much a part of Maine’s DNA as pine cones and chickadees. Maine’s sharing economy is growing, too, with places like the Maine Tool Library in Portland, where people borrow tools much like they would borrow books. By participating in Maine’s reuse and sharing economy, you can save money, conserve resources, and contribute to a strong, connected local community.
Do you have an interesting waste reduction or reuse success story? Please let us know and we’ll post it to our Spotlight on Sustainability in Maine blog.