Waste Management

  • Check out the EPA’s calculator to measure your household’s carbon footprint for waste here.
  • Learn how to do a household waste audit to identify materials that you could conserve, recycle, or compost to reduce waste in your home from Conserve Energy Future.
  • Waste prevention
    •  Join Adopt-a-Highway through TDOT in your area to invest your community members in keeping your roads clear.  Work with Keep Tennessee Beautiful to coordinate clean-up days for local eyesores or with your local Tennessee state park or city/county park department to assist in their clean-up days.
    • See waste tires?  Report them to your local solid waste department for free pick-up.
    • Cancel unnecessary mail to reduce the amount of paper you receive.
    • Try not to use disposable plates and cutlery. When necessary, try out compostable options, such as these. Typically, Styrofoam can’t be recycled!
    • For tips on composting at home, click HERE.
    • New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation recommends not flushing baby wipes, even the ones advertised as "flushable". They are among the most common objects that clog pipes and jam pumps at sewage treatment plants.
    • Can your grease; don’t flush it. See Johnson City’s campaign.
  • Donate - Instead of trashing unused items with useful life, donate them to local organizations.
    •  There are many household items that can be donated for people to reuse. Consider donating items like books, magazines, toys, and gently used clothing to shelters, hospitals, and/or animal shelters.
    • Set up a “green cube” or local collection center at your office, community center, gym, or faith organization to collect useful items and coordinate drop-off at local organizations.  TDEC’s Sustainable Workplace has developed step-by-step guidance for setting up a “green cube” or local collection and donation program. Find the guidance, including a list of the local organizations to which TDEC donates, here.   
  • Recycle – Many items such as paper, plastic, cardboard, steel and aluminum cans, and glass are accepted at county convenience centers.
    • To identify existing recycling centers in your area, check out the Keep Tennessee Beautiful website.
    • Ask your waste management service provider whether they offer curbside recycling services; if they don’t, see if there is an alternate service provider in your area who does.
    • Plastic shopping bags can be recycled at most Kroger and Walmart locations!
  • Replace plastic bags at the grocery store with reusable bags.
  • Replace single use items, such as plastic sandwich bags, with reusable/washable containers.
    • Take your containers with you – to restaurants, to coffee shops, to the office, to parties. You can eliminate your usage of single-use containers and encourage others to do the same.
  • Consider buying new items that were made from recycled materials. This includes home décor, clothing and shoes, etc.
  • Buy from manufacturers and retailers who are committed to zero waste!
  • Financial savings: How much could you save if you decreased the frequency of your waste pickup or size of your waste container? How much could you save by reusing lunch containers instead of purchasing lunch daily?  How much more can you do on a limited budget if you recycle and up-cycle materials?
  • Environmental benefits: Can you reduce your waste by 40% by keeping food out of it? How much can you recycle – eliminating the need for new raw resources to be consumed. Engage in a litter or stream clean-up and witness how your actions make a difference in your environment.  
  • Quality of life: Start a new hobby: spend some quality time with friends and family members up-cycling products. Show a loved one how much you care by giving them a gift that required your time and creativity, instead of just money.



Jennifer Tribble