New Jersey Conservation Foundation
New Jersey Conservation Foundation Menu
NJCF Homepage Contact Us Donate Events Search NJCF
New Jersey Land Conservation Organization
Donate to New Jersey Conservation Foundation
State We're In New Jersey Conservation Foundation Blog
Recycle your way to zero waste!
3/1/2018 Volume XLVIII, No. 9

Trash seems to be an inevitable part of life in our modern culture. But is it possible to reduce your garbage by half? How about 75 percent … or even all of it?

New Jersey has always been in the forefront of trash reduction. In April 1987, this state we’re in became the first in the nation to require recycling. But some people are going further.

Proponents of the “zero waste” movement say it’s possible to create so little trash that you can eliminate garbage cans and curbside pickups.  Some zero waste devotees manage to fit an entire year’s worth of trash in one small glass jar!

In nature, there is no waste. All materials – dead trees, animal remains – break down naturally and become resources for other creatures. The idea behind the zero waste movement is to do the same with our trash and send nothing to landfalls and incinerators.

But saying goodbye to garbage takes lots of planning and tough choices, including recycling, composting, reusing or repurposing everything you would otherwise throw away. But even if you can’t go trash-free, just about everyone can reduce their waste!

Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid one-use items like plastic shopping bags and bottles. Bring reusable tote bags and containers to stores, use refillable water bottles and buy products with minimal packaging.
  • Compost food waste, as well as grass clippings and leaves. Invest in an indoor composter, or simply start an outdoor compost pile. Try vermiculture and feed your scraps to worms.
  • Recycle everything possible. You may be surprised how many everyday items don’t need to go in the trash.

Most recycling programs pick up the basics: glass, aluminum cans, plastics, newspapers, magazines, loose paper and metal cans. Many offer electronics recycling and household hazardous waste collections.  

But what about the items recycling programs don’t accept?

That’s where a Trenton-based business called TerraCycle comes in. Founder Tom Szaky started his business in 2002 by turning biodegradable food waste into “worm poop” fertilizer packaged in recycled plastic soda bottles. Before long, TerraCycle carved out a new business by recycling waste items previously considered non-recyclable.

TerraCycle partners with food, beverage, cosmetics and cleaning supply manufacturers to offer free recycling of many types of packaging - including food and drink pouches, toothpaste tubes, snack bags, lipstick cases, toothbrushes, drinking water filters and plastic cups. The company separates plastic items by composition, then shreds and melts them into hard plastic that can be remolded to make new products.

The company also sells “Zero Waste Boxes,” which are especially popular with schools and businesses that want to responsibly dispose of hard-to-recycle items. These boxes are used for dozens of items, including coffee capsules, disposable gloves and even chewing gum and cigarette butts. Part of the proceeds from sales of TerraCycle boxes is donated to charitable organizations.

To sign up for TerraCycle’s free recycling programs, go to To learn about buying Zero Waste Boxes, go to

You can also make sure your old clothing, furniture and other household items don’t end up in a landfill. Donate them to a thrift shop, give them away through a local “Freecycle” organization, hold a garage sale, or sell items online or at a consignment shop. If you’re crafty or artistic, unleash your creativity and “upcycle” them on your own!

According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, as of 2015 New Jerseyans recycled 43 percent of their residential waste. This is above the national average of 34 percent, and within reach of the state's longstanding goal of a 50 percent – but so much more is possible!

To help us know when and how to recycle, the state is now offering a new app called “Recycle Coach” to residents for free.  

Recycle Coach provides information about recycling programs in your area. You can access your town’s schedule, find out which materials are accepted for recycling or set alerts so you never miss recycling day! Recycle Coach also answers questions about recycling and suggests do-it-yourself projects for repurposing unneeded stuff. To find out more about Recycle Coach, go to

So what are you waiting for? Why not up your recycling game and reduce your waste?

To find out more, search “zero waste” on the internet or any social media platform. You’ll find plenty of groups and individuals sharing their own experiences and offering helpful tips.

And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at or contact me at



To tree or not to tree?

Hard cider in the Garden State

Turkey Time

American shad return to New Jersey river after 173 years

Act now to avoid worst climate impacts

NJ Natural Lands Trust celebrates 50 years

Must love bats!

Move and improve your health!

Renewable energy: Save money and our land, water, air and health

Speak up for endangered species!

Save the bugs!

Check out New Jersey's fall bird migration

A little bit of respect...for native plants!

Explore New Jersey's wildflower meadows

All aboard floating classrooms

Catch the Perseids meteor shower!

Check out the 'fun' in fungi

Too hot to think? Studies shows heat affects your brain

Love NJ's outdoors? Take action now!

New Jersey's official reptile, the bog turtle

Sea level rise and New Jersey: Not perfect together

These New Jersey plants have an appetite for insects

Explore the Pine Barrens through paddles, hikes and tours

Like to jog? 'Plog' instead and keep NJ clean

Love Jersey fruit? Thank our native pollinators!

Good news for globally rare swamp pink lilies

Say cheese! Remote cameras aid wildlife research

Begone, single-use plastic bags!

3,000 birds and counting for 'bluebird grandfather'

The Pine Barrens gets some help from its friends

A clean energy future for New Jersey

Cowtown and rare grassland birds, perfect together

Fight light pollution during International Dark Sky Week

New film tells story of how Petty's Island was saved

Ten years of nipping invasive species in the bud

Welcome spring in a county park

Go for a walk and feel better!

Grab a friend and go outside

Recycle your way to zero waste!

Last call for winter wildlife watching on Jersey coast

Without its 'understory' layer, the forest will collapse

From whale songs to poetry, a remarkable journey

A cleaner, greener New Jersey

Let's keep New Jersey the Garden State, not the Pipeline State

New Jersey's winter hikes

'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?


November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011


New Jersey Conservation Foundation on FacebookNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on TwitterNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on FlickrNew Jersey Conservation Foundation YouTube ChannelShare      
New Jersey Conservation Foundation           Bamboo Brook, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931           908-234-1225 
home  | nj statewide eventscontact us  |  sitemap  |  privacy policy  |  DONATE