Environmental Forum on Zero Waste

The Prince George’s Sierra Club Group is sponsoring many events to educate members about how to achieve Zero Waste, including:

  • an “Environmental Forum” of a dozen Prince George’s Environmental groups, featuring speakers on Zero Waste
  • field trips to the landfill, the yard waste and composting facility, and the single-stream recycling center
  • activities to promote the use of reusable grocery bags in the county, including showings of “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?”, bag giveaways at local grocery stores, and support for a bag incentive in Prince George’s County.

The Group first became involved in 2012 in the reusable bag campaign, promoting a fee for disposable bags and conducting a baseline survey of reusable bag use in 51 grocery stores in Prince George’s County.  Only 7 percent of nearly 8,000 County shoppers exited the stores with at least one reusable bag (see the blog at left).  The Group will be enlisting volunteers to repeat the survey in early 2014 to chart progress in reducing single-use shopping bags, which litter the environment and harm wildlife, and will continue to promote reusable bags and the bag bill.

In 2013-14 the Group’s campaign is expanding to promote action on other dimensions of zero waste – recycling and composting.   Nearly two dozen Sierrans visited the single-stream recycling facility in Capitol Heights over the summer.  Speakers at the September 15th Environmental Forum argued forcefully for the economics of “waste to wealth,” increased composting, and recycling of building materials.  Follow-on field trips are being sponsored to the yard waste and composting facility (November 1), the landfill (November 8), and a repeat visit to the single-stream recycling facility (November 15th).

The County Council is taking steps toward zero waste!  Since last year, the Council:

  • Raised the County’s recycling goal to 60 percent by 2020
  • Required businesses to recycle and apartments to provide convenient recycling
  • Created a food-composting pilot program
  • Banned plastic bags for yard waste
  • Allocated funding for a zero-waste strategic plan for the County.

But more remains to be done –- get involved by joining the field trips and volunteering to participate in the bag use survey and reusable bag promotion at your local grocery store!