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Lower your environmental impact: reduce, recycle, reuse, refuse

February 28, 2020
By ANN M. O’PHELAN - Keep Lee County Beautiful (Special to The Breeze) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Special to The Breeze

How many times have you thrown something away that could have been given away? Or bought too much of a product that expired before you could finish it all? Or tossed something in the trash bin when it could have gone in the recycling bin?

With the environmental issues that our planet is facing, it's more important than ever for every one of us to be more mindful of what we are buying, using and throwing.

Consider the local amount of trash that is thrown out every day and ends up in a landfill. The Lee County Solid Waste Department provides waste and recycling services to more than 320,000 households and handles a whopping 1.1 million tons of waste every year. Some of that trash, such as a and old pair of shoes, can take up to 40 years to decompose, whereas a plastic bag can take up to 100 years to decompose, and an aluminum can could take up to 200 years. Instead of the landfill, these items may have gone to a thrift store (shoes), been placed in a recycling bin (aluminum can) or had been refused (plastic bags).

Let's look at a few ways you can reduce, recycle, reuse, and refuse.


If you don't need to buy something, don't. Only purchase what is needed. Fix whatever you can instead of buying new. With food scraps, consider composting. Go paperless. Pay your bills online with your bank. Stop using paper plates and paper towels. Opt for e-receipts. Send your wishes and greetings via e-cards. Purchase recycled paper for printers and stationery. Instead of buying individually wrapped items, try buying in bulk and placing small amounts in reusable containers. Shop at farmer's markets where there is little to no packaging. Use rechargeable batteries. Turn off electrical items when not in use. Install energy-efficient LED light bulbs. Hang your clothes out to dry.


If an item can be recycled, put it in the recycling bin instead of the trash. If you are away from home, bring it home with you and put in the recycling when you return. Lee County offers curbside recycling for paper, metal cans, cardboard, plastic containers, glass. Find out more at Find out how to recycle household chemicals, such as old paint, cell phones, and pesticides at Do not throw these types of items in the trash or regular recycling bin.


If an item can be donated, bring it to a local thrift store. They take books, clothing, shoes, household items, working appliances and more. Shop at thrift stores yourself. Find new ways to repurpose old items. For example, stained shirts can be used for rags, and an old drinking glass could be used as a pencil holder. Donate old towels, blankets, and sheets to your local animal shelter.


If you're going out shopping, bring your own reusable bags. Refuse plastic bags, straws, drink stirrers, and swizzle sticks. Purchase products with the least amount of packaging. Instead, try to find an alternative item with less. When getting an order to-go, don't take more condiments or napkins then you need. Skip the plastic silverware. Stop buying bottled water. Use refillable water bottles and fill them with tap or filtered water.

These are just a few ways you can help Keep Lee County Beautiful and help make a positive impact on the world.

Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc., an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is a 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire, educate, and engage the Lee County community in improving, beautifying, and protecting our environment. Since 1989, Keep Lee County Beautiful has formed partnerships with local governments, corporations, schools, and neighborhood organizations to engage individuals and provide opportunities to enhance the community through volunteer participation. To get involved, please call 239-334-3488 or visit .



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