New Year, New Habits: 2019, The Year of Zero Waste in Doña Ana County

January is a time for resolutions, commitments, and forming better habits. This January, the Doña Ana County Illegal Dumping Partnership (IDP) encourages residents of Doña Ana County to make 2019 the ‘year of zero waste.’

“At the beginning of the year, we’re all focused on what we can do to improve our lives and our mindset, and this year, we encourage people to think bigger,” said Vicki Lusk, Manager of Doña Ana County Animal Control & Codes. “With a community and environmental focus, we can all start to make everyday changes that have large, positive effects. Whether you are able to commit to full-fledged zero waste practices throughout the year, or you’re looking to make small changes that will positively impact your community, we encourage you to take action toward sustainability.”

To implement the ‘Zero Waste’ Resolution, the IDP recommends the following tips:

  • Ban the bag. While most know the importance of avoiding the store’s non-recyclable plastic bags and opting instead for cloth and reusable totes and bags, an often overlooked item is produce bags. When selecting produce, don’t be afraid to put produce directly into the cart without the non-recyclable plastic bag. With proper washing of fruits and vegetables, these bags are not needed and contribute greatly to illegal dumping and non-biodegradable waste.
  •  Skip the straw. Plastic straws (and other single-use plastic articles) lead to accumulations of plastic in waterways and oceans. Opt to drink from the glass, or invest in a reusable, eco-friendly drinking straw to take with you on-the-go. At restaurants, be sure to tell the server ahead of time you do not want a straw. 
  • Kick the cup. Avoid plastic cups, plastic plates, and plastic silverware. Chose reusable cups, dishes or glassware instead, or as a last resort, opt for biodegradable paper products. 
  • Buy in bulk. When items are bought in bulk, it not only helps your pocketbook, but it also reduces packaging significantly and creates less waste that ultimately ends up in the landfill. Most bulk stores allow you to bring your containers in to re-fill.
  • Buy a water filter. An alarming statistic published by Plastics Recycling Update in December 2018 shows that recycling of plastic bottles is on the decline and most certainly should be a critical message to consumers (by 3.6 percent in 2017, compared to 2016). Instead of buying cases of plastic water bottles, invest in a water filter, and keep reusable water bottles on-hand for on-the-go hydration.
  • Buy local. Not only will you help in bolstering the local economy, but also by buying locally-sourced goods, you’re helping to reduce the carbon footprint from shipping in produce, food, and goods from far away. Buying local increases sustainability, while having a positive impact on the economy.
  • Get involved. There are many options for getting involved and taking action to cleanup Doña Ana County. The Doña Ana County Codes Division helps community members organize cleanup days. The Codes Division provides supplies, including trash bags, grabbers, gloves, reflector safety vests and water for participating community members. Those interested in planning a cleanup day are encouraged to call (575) 525-8846 and begin building a group of volunteers.
  • Increase awareness. On a personal level, take a look at your use of plastic, and work to reduce plastic consumption. Small steps can have a large impact. Additionally, spread the word to family members and friends. Help to increase public education and remind others that, while the nearest ocean is far away, the majority of our oxygen comes from oceans, and we all have a responsibility to uphold.

“We all have responsibility to take care of our community and our world,” added Lusk. “We all have an opportunity to get involved, encourage our friends and family to get involved, and to incorporate more responsible practices into our everyday routine. We hope you’ll join us in making 2019 the year of zero waste. It’s a powerful resolution with a huge impact.”

For more information on the IDP or to find out how get involved in cleanup efforts, visit CleanupWithCarlos.org.