Small Change, Big Impact

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Thursday, January 21, 2021 - Submitted by the Cleaner Greener Hingham Committee

What would it take to make one small change in your habits this year? Did you know that if we all make one small change, it will add up to huge savings for the town?

In 2021, Hingham will be paying approximately 25% more to dispose of our trash with costs increasing each year per the town’s new contract with COVANTA SEMASS (in W. Wareham, MA) where our trash is incinerated. This coupled with increased expenses to process some recyclables, means that anything residents can do to keep items out of trash and recycling streams can help to keep costs down for the town.  

How can you help? There are lots of things you can do that will have little impact on your daily life, and big impact on our trash production. While you have likely heard these suggestions before, consider the below facts on how much is kept out of the trash by just one of these small lifestyle changes. Many of these swaps can not only be beneficial but are items which come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes making them both functional and even fun to use!

  • Keep reusable bags stocked in your car trunk or purse. If you forget and only have a few items, it’s ok to refuse a single-use bag in a store and carry them out without a bag. The average American throws away over 300 single use bags per year. 
  • Consider kicking the single-use water bottle habit! Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month for every person in the U.S. Using a reusable water bottle can save an average of 156 plastic bottles per year. 
  • Say no thank you to single-use straws for take-out and restaurant beverages unless you really need it. Keep a reusable straw in your car or bag if you happen to enjoy drinking through a straw. Using 1 metal straw means 540 plastic straws that don’t go in the trash!
  • Keep a stash of dishtowels, microfiber cloths, or rags on hand instead of paper towels. Toss them in the wash when done and reuse! Using one cloth towel is equivalent to approximately 7,300 paper towels that are not tossed.
  • Refuse the extra sleeve surrounding your take-out beverage. If you are a “double cupper,” consider keeping a re-usable sleeve in your car to use instead. If you get a coffee on your way to work every day, that will save 260 cups per year. 
  • Swap out your zip-lock bags for re-useable and re-sealable containers. There are lots of great options, many made from glass or silicone which can be used in the freezer or oven. Bonus, you save a little water and energy from not having to wash an extra pan or plate!

Recycling is impactful however the best way to reduce waste costs is by not using items in the first place. These suggestions above are some fun AND functional ways that you can make one small swap and have one big impact. 

Cleaner Greener Hingham is a Town Committee whose mission is to educate our community through information and activities that facilitate best practices for recycling. We help share resources and tips for Hingham residents to live a cleaner, greener life along with information about recycling at the Transfer Station. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

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