The 7 Rs of Sustainability

Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

 green leaf 7 r's

Keeping Dunedin Delightful means caring for the natural environment and understanding the hierarchy of resource management. Below are ways you can do just that. Have ideas, thoughts, or want to share a way you've accomplished one of the 7 Rs? We'd love to hear about it! Contact Dunedin's Sustainability Program Coordinator via phone or email:

727-298-3215 x1324
NHenley@DunedinFL.net

 

Rethink

Rethink how you view natural resources. Understanding that natural resources are limited can greatly influence the choices you make in your everyday life. When purchasing items, remember the words of L.N. Smith, "Every dollar you spend or don't spend is a vote you cast for the world you want to live in." It is critical to realize that every choice you make is very important to the health of the planet. 

 

LN Smith Quote Dollar Vote
Photo Credit Link

 

One way to rethink about the choices you make is to conduct an at-home waste audit. This will allow you to see areas of your life that cause the most waste. Click here for a template on conducting an at-home waste audit created by The Conscious Desi. The waste audit might show you that you go through a large number of plastic water bottles. To reduce this, consider using the same water bottle over and over again. For a more durable option, consider purchasing a reusable water bottle that will last, such as stainless steel or glass. You will find that not only are you saving the environment by not purchasing bottled water, but you're also saving your wallet!  If you have concerns about tap water, there are many water filters available for purchase at local stores and online. But did you know that Dunedin has received awards for the quality of their water? Check out this article from the Tampa Bay Times showcasing Dunedin's water.  Further information can be found by visiting the City's Water page to find the Consumer Confidence Reports. 

Refuse

Sustainability defines refuse as refusing to accept or support products or companies that harm the environment. One way to do this is to refuse items that are over-packaged or packaged in plastic. While it is difficult to refuse all plastic items, being more conscious can help change your habits. 

Broccoli in Plastic

A great way to refuse over-packaged items is to start your grocery shopping in the produce section. Not only is this a healthier option, but also the more environmentally conscious option. Avoid produce wrapped in plastic. Once you find the package-free produce, use a reusable produce bag instead of the plastic produce bags offered in the market.  

 

Reduce

Reducing the number of resources used in your everyday life is the next step in the resource management hierarchy. Start with small ways you can reduce your energy usage, water usage along with reducing your garbage, food waste, plastic, and transportation. The room in your home that usually creates the most waste is the kitchen, therefore you can focus on reducing waste here first to make the biggest impact. Below is a list of 55 ways to reduce kitchen waste: 
55 Ways to Reduce Waste in the Kitchen 

Ways to Reduce Plastic:

9 tips for living with less plastic9 Tips For Living With Less Plastic

  1. Bring your own shopping bag
  2. Carry a reusable water bottle
  3. Bring your own cup
  4. Pack your lunch in reusable containers
  5. Say no to disposable straws & cutlery
  6. Skip the plastic produce bags
  7. Slow down and dine in
  8. Store leftovers in glass jars
  9. Share these tips with your friends 

 

 

 

Another way to reduce is to find items in your home that cause lots of waste and swap them for more environmentally conscious products. Take paper towels, for example. Think about the number of resources it takes to grow the trees, chop down the trees, transport them, refine them into the desired product, package the paper towels in plastic, transport them home, and then dispose of them in the garbage. Note, paper towels cannot be currently recycled in Dunedin! Instead of going through these resources so quickly, consider making your kitchen paperless. Items to swap for creating a paperless kitchen:

  • Swap paper towels for cloth towels
  • Swap paper napkins for cloth napkins
  • Swap paper plates for reusable plates
  • Swap paper cups for reusable cups 

 Paper towels vs cloth

 

Reuse

When you purchase an item, say a can of tomato sauce, think about how you are paying for the sauce AND the jar or container it comes in. Look around your home to find the various ways the products you purchase are packaged. Since you are paying for this packaging - why not make the most of it? There are endless ideas online. If you cannot reuse an item, share it with someone else; this is called re-homing. You can donate to a local thrift store or share with your neighbor next door.

Below are a few examples of ways to reuse the items right in your home. 

 

upcycle glass jars
Click here to check out 20 Ways to Upcycle Glass Jars and Bottles 

 

eggshell planters
Photo Credit Link
Eggshell Planters 

 

tshirt produce bag
Photo Credit Link
T-Shirt Produce Bag

How To Make Your Own T-Shirt Produce Bag

 

 

Repurpose & Repair

Before disposing of an item, consider the ways in which it could be repurposed or repaired. There are many exciting ways household items can be repurposed and repaired. Check out the upcycling ideas below! 

upcycle ladder
Photo Credit: Tabitha Blue

Upcycled ladder into a bookshelf

 

 

 repurpose items_1
Photo Credit Link
Cheese graters turned into lights or earring holders, bins turned into lights, and strainers turned into light shades.

 

Repurpose items_3
Photo Credit Link
Tennis rackets turned into mirrors, the guitar turned into a decorative shelf, half a globe as a light shade, and a tire as a sink! 

 

 

Repair

Repair_hammer
Repair_sewing

 

 

Repairing items is another way to reduce the consumption of materials and natural resources. By placing value in the item you have and repairing when needed, you are sustaining the products you own and reducing waste. There are many resources online for learning how to repair household items. 

 

Recycle

There are various local recycling programs that you can partake in. Note these are all separate programs and must be sorted separately.

  • Single stream or mixed recycling
    • Dunedin Solid Waste & Recycling offers single-stream recycling to all single-family homeowners. Residents are encouraged to recycle right in their curbside program. This means only recycling cans, office paper, newspaper, cardboard, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, jugs, and containers, and food and beverage cartons.
    • Common Contaminants: 
    • All_Recycling_Contamination
    • Nothing smaller than your fist! Small items including bottle caps, shredded paper, small yogurt cups, sticky notes, and K-cups are too small to go through the sorting plant. They become lodged in equipment and create cross-contamination issues. Either twist the cap on your bottle so it can be "one item" or throw the cap in the garbage.
    • DO NOT BAG YOUR RECYCLING! Make sure all recyclable items are loose in your cart and no plastic bags are in the cart.  

 Dunedin's Guide to Recycling

Dunedin's Recycling Program accepts:

  • Aluminum, tin, and steel cans
  • Paper and cardboard
  • All colors glass bottles and jars
  • Plastic bottles and containers (#1-7)
  • Food and beverage cartons

Make sure to rinse out containers before placing them in your recycling cart.

Items that are common contaminates in Dunedin's Recycling Program include: 

  • Plastic bags, wrap, food, packaging or film
  • Paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, tissue, and wax paper
  • Cords, wires, clothing hangers, garden hose, appliances, string lights, light bulbs, and clothing - these items become entangled in equipment causing damage and safety issues. 
  • Broken cups and dishes 
  • Styrofoam, foam containers and foam packaging
  • Scrap metal, construction and yard debris
  • Diapers, hazardous and medical materials, electronics and batteries

Where does your recycling go once you place it in the bin?

Dunedin currently has a recycling contract with Waste Pro. This company picks up the residential curbside program and transports the materials to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) or sorting plant in Sarasota, Florida. Once the materials are sorted and bailed, they go out to market. Waste Pro states that they almost exclusively sell their materials to domestic markets.

 

Condos, Apartments, and Townhomes

All commercial and multi-family buildings in Dunedin are entitled to the open market for recycling services. This allows for businesses and multi-family buildings to have a program that best suits their needs.

Do you live in a condo or apartment that doesn't have recycling?  Speak with your management to set an appointment with a staff member of Dunedin Solid Waste. The City's staff can explain the various recycling options commercial buildings have and assist them with starting or revamping a recycling program.  

 

  • Textile and clothing recycling
    • Did you know the City of Dunedin partners with Suncoast Textile Recycling in Clearwater to offer residents a way to correctly recycle clothing and textiles? Residents can place clothing, shoes, purses, belts, and other fabric materials into the drop off bins located at:
      • Lake Haven Recycling Center - 810 Lake Haven Road, Dunedin
      • Highlander Pool Recycling Center - 1941 Ed Eckert Drive, Dunedin

  Clothing

Shoes

  • Cooking oil recycling 
    • Residents can bring used cooking oil to the Dunedin Solid Waste & Recycling office at 1070 Virginia St, Dunedin. Simply fill a container with used cooking oil and stop by the office! Let staff know if you'd like the container back and they will assist you. 
    • REMEMBER: Never dump cooking oil down drains as this can cause serious damage! Fat, oil, and grease clog Dunedin's sanitary sewer system when poured down drains and can cause unsanitary back-ups, overflows onto streets, foul-smelling odors, and costly damage to our sewer system. You can help by recycling your cooking oil!

Do:
Use a personal container for transport (wide mouth jugs work great). Recycle beef and pork grease/margarine, shortening, any fat, grease or oil from food.

Don't:
Put motor oil in containers. 

 

  • Motor Oil Recycling
    • Visit the Pinellas County A-Z Recycling Guide to learn locations for motor oil disposal.

 

  •  Electronics and Chemical Collection Program
    • To correctly dispose of electronics and chemicals, take part in Pinellas County's HEC3 program. It is free to dispose of the following items at:
    • What to Bring
      • Electronics:
        • Laptops, cell phones, TV's, monitors, CPU's / computer towers, power supplies, hard drives, motherboards, and tablets.
      • Chemicals: 
        • Paints and paint chemicals, stains, pool and spa chemicals, pesticides, lawn chemicals, all non-alkaline batteries, fluorescent and projector light bulbs, automotive fluids, kerosene, household cleaners, propane tanks under 1 lb., smoke detectors, solvents, adhesives, mercury-containing devices. 

 

  • Battery Recycling
    • Disposing of batteries in the garbage and single-stream recycling containers is a fire hazard. Residents can correctly dispose of cell phones and SMALL rechargeable batteries at the Solid Waste & Recycling office - 1070 Virginia Street, Dunedin - Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    • Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium-Ion (Li-ion), Small Sealed Lead (PB)

      ***Alkaline batteries, such as AA, AAA, C & D no longer contain mercury and are safe for regular garbage

 

  • Plastic Bag and Styrofoam recycling
    •  Many grocery stores in the area have receptacles outside their facility for plastic bag and Styrofoam recycling. Check with your local store to find out more details.

 

Rot

Rot, also known as composting, is the act of turning food waste and other organics back into nutrient-rich soil. 

compost image
Click here for photo credit

According to Paul Hawken's Project Drawdown book, Reducing Food Waste is Priority #3 for fighting against climate change. This can be accomplished by understanding the Food Waste Hierarchy demonstrated below. 

Learn more about composting and gardening tips by visiting the Dunedin Community Garden or Pinellas Community Composting Alliance

 

Food Waste Management Hierarchy
Photo Credit Link

Food Recovery Hierarchy 

  1. Source Reduction - cooking using fresh ingredients in small batches. Trayless dining and taking only what you're going to eat is important.
  2. Feed Hungry People - donating to food banks
  3. Feed Animals - using food scraps as animal feed
  4. Industrial Uses - recycling used cooking oil for biofuels and biodigesters
  5. Composting - composting food scraps and coffee grounds
  6. Landfill and Incineration - last resort for disposal 

St. Petersburg has a composting program and their guide can be useful when creating your own backyard compost. 

 

 

 

7 R's _Green Scene.jpeg

 

For more information on Dunedin's Recycling and Sustainability Programs contact:

Dunedin Solid Waste & Recycling
727-298-3215
SolidWaste@DunedinFL.net
1070 Virginia St, Dunedin, FL 34698