Living In A Friendly Environmental (L.I.F.E) Manner
Reduction Guide to Making Your Home Environmentally Friendly
We all want to do our part to protect it and make Mesa a
better place to live. Many of us take the time to divert
household items from the landfill by either participating in
Mesa's Blue Barrel curbside recycling collection program or
taking materials to one of our area drop-off recycling centers.
While these are commendable activities, there is much more that
we can do everyday to ensure that we make the most of our
natural resources and protect the environment.
We need to pay closer attention to our lifestyles to make
sure that we are living in an environmentally friendly manner as
much as possible. The purpose of this guide is to provide you
with some source reduction, reuse, and recycling ideas to make
your home more environmentally friendly.
The kitchen is the most logical place to start since most of
our garbage comes from this well-used room in the house. Many
of the materials that we can reduce, reuse or recycle are used
or generated in the kitchen. In fact, if you look at your
kitchen waste carefully, you will notice that most of the
materials are actually packaging wastes. Over-packaging results
in more waste and higher disposal costs. It is important to pay
attention to what you purchase to ensure that you buy products
with a minimum of packaging waste. If you do a good job
reducing your kitchen waste, you will have already taken a big
step towards making your home environmentally friendly. The
following are some suggestions for you that will help you to
reduce the amount of material you throw away:
- Reduce! When purchasing items, pay
attention to the amount of packaging used. Also, consider
whether or not the product or its packaging is recyclable in
Mesa's recycling program. Another tip is to buy in bulk and
avoid products with excess packaging. Single serve packages
use more packaging than larger bulk items. However, balance
this with making sure that you buy only what you need,
especially with perishable products. You can also buy
refills. Refill packages reduce waste since they are often
made of thinner material than the original container and
don't include spouts, pumps or spray tops. Also, these
refills usually contain a layer of recycled materials,
saving on the use of new or "virgin" materials.
- Reuse! It sounds simple, but many of
us overlook the obvious. Why throw something away when you
can use it again and again. The kitchen is a haven for
reusable items such as aluminum foil, glass, jars, and
plastic containers. If you have items to dispose of that
you are not going to be reusing yourself, look into other
outlets for reusable materials such as the Salvation Army,
Good Will and Desert Industries. In this way, someone else
can reuse your items rather than throwing them into the
- Recycle! Don't be a part of the
problem! Be part of the solution!If you are not already
recycling, think about starting. Recycling is easy. Many
items such as newspaper, glass, metal cans, and plastics are
being collected from homes just like yours. Currently, the
City of Mesa's Blue Barrel recycling program accepts the
- Plastic cups and containers #1-#7 (no Styrofoam)
- Glass jars and bottles
- Aluminum cans
- Metal (tin) cans
- Corrugated cardboard
- Milk and juice cartons
- Direct Mail
- Telephone Books
In addition, there are convenient
24-hour drop-off sites
available to recycle these items should you not have our barrel
service or have an abundance of recyclable material that will
not fit into your blue barrel at home.
Your garage probably contains the most potentially hazardous
wastes in your home. Paint, oils, pesticides, solvents and
cleaners are generally referred to as "Household Hazardous
Materials". When used properly these materials pose little
threat to the environment. It is when they are disposed of
improperly, that these materials can contaminate soil, water,
and air. They can also pose a health hazard to humans and
pets. It is very important that you make sure you use the
product according to label instructions.
The following suggestions will assist you in minimizing the
environmental impacts associated with Household Hazardous
- Don't buy too much! Carefully estimate
how much of a material you may need when making purchases.
Purchasing only what you need will eliminate having to
dispose of excess material. Remember, just because a larger
quantity is on sale for a price comparable to a smaller
package, it is not a bargain if it creates a disposal
problem for you.
- Give it away to others! If you have
excess materials, check with friends, family and community
organizations to see if they could use the material. This
solves your disposal problems and saves others some money.
Giving away unwanted paint is a great example. Youth
theater groups, churches or other civic organizations may be
interested in your old paint.
- Try alternatives! There are many safe,
more environmentally friendly alternatives that you can use
in place of commercially produced cleaning supplies. You
would be surprised at how much baking soda can do! For
example, 4 tablespoons of baking soda combined with 1 quart
of warm water makes an all-purpose cleaner. Another example
is take 2 parts vegetable oil and 1 part lemon juice or 3
cups olive oil and 1 cup vinegar to make furniture polish.
Additionally, there are numerous planting techniques to
reduce unwanted garden pests.
- Practice proper disposal methods! The
City of Mesa offers regularly scheduled
household hazardous waste collection events for
residents who need to dispose of household hazardous
materials. Utilize these events to properly dispose of
Yard and Garden
We all enjoy having a beautiful lawn and landscape. But how
many of us enjoy the work involved with keeping a lawn looking
beautiful? Or the expense associated with it? Consider the
following suggestions to keep the yard waste off your curb for
collection and therefore lower your yard waste disposal bill.
Xeriscaping makes sense...naturally!
Xeriscaping takes a smart approach to landscaping by
promoting good planning, proper soil preparation, efficient
irrigation, and the use of well adapted, low water using
plants. For homeowners, it means less maintenance, lower water
bills -- and a colorful, attractive yard. Saving water, mowing
less, and sending less waste to our landfills promotes the
overall conservation of our resources. Check with the City's
Water Resources Office at (480) 644-3058 for some free advice
Reduce your turf area!
Many people are rethinking how much lawn they want and need.
You might consider reducing the area of lawn you presently have
by replacing some areas with water-efficient groundcovers or
shrubs. Patios, paving stones or other garden structures can
also reduce your lawn maintenance area while adding
functionality to your landscape.
Mow your lawn more frequently, cutting just the top third of
the grass blade. While this seems like more work, it actually
saves time because you don't have to bag the grass. Studies
have shown that leaving the shorter clippings (which are rich in
nutrients) on the lawn and mowing more frequently will result in
a healthier, green lawn with less effort! A mulching lawn mower
is not necessary but it will help.
Green Waste Barrel
The City of Mesa offers a curbside
green waste barrel for a
nominal monthly fee in which you can put loose, unbagged green
waste; including grass cuttings, leaves, and prunings. This
barrel is collected weekly, the same day as your blue recycling
barrel, and the material is turned into nutrient rich mulch.
If you have a lot of grass clippings, leaves, and/or garden
wastes, but do not want to put those materials out at the curb,
consider starting a backyard compost pile. Composting will not
only help you manage your waste on-site, it will also generate a
soil product that you can use in your garden, flower beds, and
around shrubbery and bushes. Compost is great for fighting
weeds as well as soil erosion. The City of Mesa offers
residents a backyard compost container for a $5 refundable
deposit. Call Customer Service for more information.
We have offered some suggestions that you can use at home to
reduce, reuse, and recycle your wastes. However, most of those
suggestions apply only after you have purchased an item. Much
of what you can do to reduce or recycle your waste occurs
before, or during, your visits to the store. By making the
effort to keep your disposal options in mind when you purchase
goods, you can truly make a difference. Listed below are some
- Buy Recycled! Take the time to check
and see if the product you are buying contains any
post-consumer recycled material. By purchasing products
using recycled materials, you help support recycling markets
which improve the value of recyclable materials.
- Buy products that are recyclable in Mesa!
This will reduce what you have to put in your garbage barrel
at home. Be careful though. Just because an item states
that it is recyclable does not necessarily mean that it is
recyclable in Mesa's program. If given the choice between
buying eggs in a Styrofoam carton or in a paperboard carton,
consider the recyclability of each type of material and
purchase the paperboard carton that is recyclable in Mesa's
- Avoid single-use disposable products!
Whenever possible, either purchase goods that are durable
and can be used for a long period of time or reuse products
you may have at home.
- Reuse your grocery bags! If you can
bring your own bags from home, do so. If not, take as few
bags as you can comfortably handle. Whether you prefer
paper bags or plastic bags, be sure to reuse them. Paper
bags are great for keeping newspapers neatly stored and make
excellent book covers. Plastic bags make good wastebasket
liners or lunch bags. You can also inquire at your grocery
store if they have a return program for plastic bags.
- Support recycling! Tell your store
manager that you prefer buying products that are made with
recycled content and/or are recyclable. Ask them to make
every effort to seek out and stock these types of products.
Store managers welcome this type of input from customers.
The following are additional tips to consider to help further
reduce your household's waste:
- Reduce junk mail. The City of Mesa offers information
to reduce unwanted junk mail.
- Avoid using disposable products when appropriate. This
includes paper plates, cups, utensils, reusable bags, etc.
Give it away, don't throw it away!
- Give away or donate items that you do not want anymore
but are still usable. Contact your local Salvation Army,
Goodwill, or Desert Industries for information on how these
products can be reused.
Note: Portions of this guide were adapted from West Cook
County Solid Waste Agency publication of the same title.
Information was developed by the Des Moines Metro Area Solid
Waste Agency; Illinois EPA and ENR; Missouri Household Hazardous
Waste Project; and the City of Fort Worth, Texas.
Solid Waste Management Department
Mesa, AZ 85211
Walk-in service requests/payments:
55 N. Center St.
6935 E. Decatur St.
Mesa, AZ 85207
7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Fridays & holidays
Missed barrel notification
Barrel collection schedule
Barrel or service requests
All other service requests should be directed to
Charlie the Recycling Chimp school
Email us (General Questions)