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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • August 2018
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Moving toward greater sustainability in waste and recycling management


Did you know every Wisconsinite creates an average of over 1,700 pounds of waste each year? This adds up to 4.6 million tons of waste, just in our state alone. Everything that has ever been manufactured or purchased needs to go somewhere at the end of the product’s life, and most is thrown in the landfill.

In recent years, we’ve become better recyclers, and that’s great. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 94 percent of Wisconsin households recycle and feel it is worthwhile, and 32 percent of us are recycling more now than we did two years ago. But even recycling has limitations, and managing our waste has become more and more complex.


Despite strong recycling programs, Wisconsin residents and businesses continue to landfill over 9 million tons of waste a year. Getting individuals and businesses to think about their daily waste and choose better management and/or disposal methods, will have a direct impact on our environment.

Solution: Your actions matter!

Working together we can help reduce our waste by following these 5 easy steps:

1. Reduce Choosing a reusable cup, purchasing foods in bulk and refusing items like plastic straws is a good start to reducing waste. Plan ahead to lessen impulse buying and remember to keep reusable shopping bags in your vehicle. Start simple and start today!

2. Reuse – Before recycling or disposing an item, think about other people who might want or need your item. Consider taking magazines to a nursing home for others to read and enjoy. Try shopping at secondhand stores, repaint old furniture and donate items that are in good shape. Reusing takes little effort, but can make a big difference.

3. Recycle – Recycling has never been easier as urban and rural communities both enjoy curbside collection. Office buildings, schools and public places also offer recycling bins. Be sure to contact your local municipality to find out how to recycle right in your community.

4. Repair – In our “throwaway society” it often seems easier to toss an item in the garbage and buy new. Many times a bit of TLC can get an old bike to last for years by oiling the chain and tightening the brakes. Mending clothes and fixing electronics will not only cut down on waste, but will save you money!

5. Compost – Mother Nature is our greatest recycler! Organic material, such as lawn clippings, leaves, garden debris and certain food scraps once piled together with the right amount of water, oxygen and microorganisms, will decompose into a soil amendment called compost. Composting can be done in most backyards, at community gardens and inside your home using worms. Organic material in the landfill creates methane — a nasty greenhouse gas that is expensive to capture.


Together we can reduce waste for sustainable economic and environmental benefits. Thankfully Wisconsin has several waste and resource management organizations:

  • Wisconsin Counties Solid Waste Management Association (WCSWMA)
  • Solid Waste Association of North America – Badger Chapter (SWANA)
  • Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin (AROW)

These organizations are extremely excited to partner with Discover Mediaworks to create an episode for the Emmy Award-winning TV series “Into the Outdoors.” This 30-minute episode will help educate the viewers and spark an interest to “become stewards” of our environment. 

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