Think Outside the Trash: Join Great Parks’ Initiative to Increase Recycling Rates

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Great Parks employees and Economic Environment Solutions International employees run a recycling audit at Winton Woods' Central Services building.
Great Parks employees and Economic Environment Solutions International employees ran a recycling audit in 2021 at Winton Woods’ Central Services building.

So often, we throw away something we’re done using or that we don’t need any more without thinking about the consequences of this action. We tend to believe that once it’s in the trash, we do our part in keeping the environment clean.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2018, the total generation of municipal solid waste was 292.4 million tons, which means that an average American person throws 4.9 pounds per person per day. That is a lot of waste transported and buried in landfills for hundreds of years, negatively impacting the land, groundwater, wildlife, people who live nearby, and all of us as a society.

Dumps are among the nation’s largest methane and other GHG emissions sources. We support a system that trades on natural resources beyond their capacity to regenerate by throwing our stuff away. The EPA estimates more than 75% of recyclable materials are dumped in landfills, yet the national recycling average is less than 34%. That is a big waste of expensive raw materials.

Learning How to Increase Recycling Rates at Great Parks

Last year, we conducted a waste audit at Winton Woods to learn more about Great Parks’ waste, recycling and how we can improve and increase recycling rates at the parks. (You can see more of the process in the above video.) We learned, for example, that 70% of the material discarded at The Mill Course trash cans could be recycled (cans, plastic and glass bottles). 20% of all materials at Parky’s Farm could be recycled and diverted from the landfill. We also saw that almost 60% of the materials in the recycling receptacles from the shelters are trash and food waste that can’t be recycled.

Having those results in mind, and with the support of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) recycling grant, Great Parks more than doubled the number of recycling bins at golf courses and parks. We created a new educational campaign to engage you, our park guests, in our goal. 

Think Outside the Trash

A blue and orange recycling logo reads: Think Outside the Trash. Please Recycle.
A blue recycling bin and brown trash can stand next to each other. The recycling bin includes a sticker that says "Think Outside the Trash," showing park guests which items are recyclable.

Think Outside the Trash is a simple call to think and act outside our automatic action of throwing all of our waste in one trash can. It’s a call to learn what can be recycled and how to avoid unnecessary contamination in the mixed recycling stream. 

You may have even seen some new recycling bins placed in parks recently! Be on the lookout for Think Outside the Trash recycling bins in high traffic park areas and golf courses.

So next time you’re at the parks, enjoying your cup of coffee, pop can or water bottle, please Think Outside The Trash. Join us in using the recycling bins, and help us protect the natural resource by diverting recyclable waste from the landfill. 

Moran Slakmon
Sustainability Coordinator