Opinion: Some tips to achieve “zero waste” in September
HomeHome > Blog > Opinion: Some tips to achieve “zero waste” in September

Opinion: Some tips to achieve “zero waste” in September

Mar 31, 2024

On Aug. 8, the Virginia Beach City Council signed a resolution, on the recommendation of the Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission (VBCCC), that recognizes the first full week of September as Zero Waste Awareness Week. It costs the city more than $12 million a year for waste disposal. During this week, the city will highlight all the ways that citizens can work toward producing zero waste.

Simply stated, zero waste is producing little or no waste. Less waste means less trash in landfills which will ultimately cut costs and benefit our environment.

There are many ways Virginia Beach residents and the surrounding communities can work toward zero waste by reducing, reusing, recycling correctly and repurposing.

Reducing is the No. 1 way to cut back on your household trash. Consider if you need the item that you are about to buy and pass on making that purchase if you don’t really need it. Buy items with minimal packaging that is compostable or recyclable and skip the bag altogether or bring your own.

Reusing is another tool to cut back on waste. Skip single-use plastics by getting into the habit of keeping reusable tote bags with you when you shop. Use a reusable mesh bag instead of the plastic bag for your produce. A reusable water bottle not only cuts back on waste but helps to keep discarded plastic bottles from ending up in our waterways or from clogging a storm drain. Travel with a reusable cup and pack your own reusable utensils. There are many ways to reuse items, so start getting creative with ways to cut back.

Recycling correctly is a strategy to keep waste from the landfill, but it is not the answer as only certain items are recyclable and almost 40% of Virginia Beach residents recycle incorrectly. Many of us are “wishful recyclers” and put everything with a recycle logo in the blue bin. However, that leads to contamination and reduces the effectiveness of our recycling program. Many of the city’s recycling carts display what can be recycled embossed on their lids. Currently, this includes the following (clean and rinsed):

Repurposing items is another excellent way to keep your discards out of the landfill. Gently used clothing and household items may be donated at your local thrift or consignment shop. Join a local “Facebook free” site and give your stuff away instead of sending them to the landfill. Check the internet for creative ideas to repurpose.

Spread the word about Zero Waste Awareness Week. Encourage your friends and family to stop and think before they throw something in the trash. Challenge household members to reduce, reuse, recycle correctly and repurpose to see who the “Zero Waste Winner” can be. Then, share ideas and implement them year-round.

Zero Waste Awareness Week will kick off on Saturday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. with the VBCCC giving away free reusable bags outside the Goodwill store at 1949 Lynnhaven Pkwy. The week concludes on Sept. 9 with LRNow’s International Coastal Cleanup event. Learn more at lynnhavenrivernow.org.

The VBCCC will host its International Coastal Cleanup event on Sept. 16 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at 17th Street Oceanfront Park. Learn more at parkeventsvb.com.

Finally, check the city of Virginia Beach Waste Management Division website and social media page for more ideas on tactics toward zero waste at virginiabeach.gov/wastemgt.

Maury Hill serves as chair of the Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission. Terry Stevens serves as vice chair.

Sign up for email newsletters