Just 22 miles from Lake Tahoe, Reno, Nevada, is the perfect place for nature-lovers. Nestled against the majesty of the Sierra Nevadas and Tahoe National forest, the city is bursting with hiking trails, camping spots, and prime skiing and snowboarding runs. Here, the natural beauty of the area is more than prime real estate for recreation; it also provides necessities to the community. For example, the nearby wetlands provide a natural filtration system for the city’s water treatment plant, and the Truckee River remains Reno’s main source of clean drinking water. With so many important natural resources close by, it’s essential that Reno residents dispose of their waste responsibly. Here are some tips to help you reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Historically, other countries have been accepting recycling from the United States, but this practice is rapidly changing. In order to tackle our growing need for recycling options, as well as our limited landfill space, Americans need to take steps to limit waste. The first step in reducing waste is simple: buy less. If you don’t leave the store with it, it will never end up in the landfill. Of course, there are essentials that always need replacing–clothes, toiletries, kitchenware, and food will hardly ever last a lifetime. However, it is possible to find products that are more sustainable and last longer than their competitors. For example, you can use your purchasing power to invest in brands and companies that sell products that are local, green, organic, and fair trade. While a lot of these products tend to be more expensive than their conventional competitors, they contribute to the local economy, are better for the environment, represent ethical business models, and will often outlast cheaper variations. Not only does this reduce waste, but it also saves you money over time.

It’s not just product consumption that should be reduced. Packaging and plastics are everywhere, and are proving to be a constant threat to our natural resources. Avoid products that use a lot of plastic packaging, which is often relatively useless and cannot be recycled. This is often an issue with ordering items from online retailers, who don’t always ship their products in efficient (or effective) packaging. Instead, opt for a local retailer, and bring a reusable bag with you while you shop.

Reusing or repurposing household items can be tricky, especially if you don’t have a lot of time, energy, or desire to be crafty. Yet, there are plenty of small, everyday items that you can reuse without altering your routine in any significant way. Instead of using plastic Tupperware, baggies, and disposable food wraps, repurpose your glass jam and sauce jars, and rinse out your baggies to reuse again. If you have children, save cardboard boxes, take out containers, toilet paper tubes, stray buttons, and other everyday recyclables to use as an affordable alternative to crafting materials.

You can also reuse and repurpose as a community. Instead of taking a trip to the mall, hit up your local thrift store. Not only will you find unique outfits, statement pieces, and halloween costumes, but you’ll also find great deals on gently used necessities without worrying about creating more waste.

The City of Reno participates in single-stream recycling, which means that items are placed in one curbside bin rather than sorted into distinct categories. When recycling at home, it’s essential to place only approved items into your bin. Rinse food containers, foil, soap bottles, and other items before depositing them into the recycling. If you’re unsure of what materials can go into your bin, the Reno Waste Management website has plenty of useful tips to help you avoid fines, and keep your recycling game on track.

Additionally, there are dumpster alternative services that will come to you and pick up larger items like mattresses, carpet, tires, glass, household electronics and appliances, and even hot tubs. These companies will take your old or discarded items and break them down, recycling what they can and disposing of the rest. This is particularly helpful if you’re renovating, as they’ll come take away any renovation waste that may be reusable, hazardous, or simply cumbersome.

A Commitment for the Community
We are in critical moment, where our communities–both large and small–need to come together to save our natural resources. Sustainable living starts at home, and it’s important to talk to your children, friends, and family about what they can do to go green. Other ways to support green infrastructure is to donate or volunteer for local organizations that support sustainable programing, support community education and environmental programs in schools, and vote! Vote to support legislation and candidates that care about the environment will support change at both the local and federal level. Reno, Nevada, is surrounded by many irreplaceable natural wonders, and they should be preserved not only for the good of the community, but also for the good of the environment itself.

Haley Kieser assists O2E Brands in research and writing. O2E Brands consists of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, Wow 1 Day Painting, and Shack Shine. She can be reached at [email protected].