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Why reduce waste?

Leon County residents and businesses produce 800-1,000 tons of garbage daily, and much of this could be recycled, reused or simply avoided. Help keep our community healthy and pristine by being aware of ways to minimize your impact and save resources.


Think before you buy

  • Look for things made from recycled materials.
  • Avoid disposable items – buy reusable.
    • Hosting a party? Use reusable dishware or encourage guests to bring their own favorite glass. If that’s not possible, buy paper or compostable products rather than plastic or Styrofoam – they have a lesser environmental impact.
    • Reusable grocery bags can hold a lot more than a plastic bag – and you never have to throw them away!
  • Buy in bulk.
    • Buying in bulk saves money and creates less waste than if you were to buy items in individual packages. If possible, avoid individually wrapped items and single-serve containers.
  • Avoid items that contain excessive chemicals or fertilizers. Adding store-bought fertilizer to your yard can be harmful to water bodies – when it rains, this fertilizer is swept off by stormwater and can pollute nearby waterways
  • There are many alternatives that are not only ‘greener,’ but also cheaper. Try leaving your yard debris on your lawn, or starting a compost pile, instead of bagging it – this is a natural way to make your yard nutritious without the additions of purchased fertilizer. Plus, it’s free!
  • Buying cleaning products? Make some at home instead. White vinegar and baking soda is a cheap, toxic-free combination for cleaning just about anything. Learn how to make more home cleaning formulas.
  • Look for eco-friendly alternatives next time you shop for cleaning materials – there are plenty of products that prize themselves on being better for the environment and better for your health. The Enviromental Working Group provides a list of some eco-friendly products.

Beware of Greenwashing

Most companies know that consumers care about the environment and are drawn to things labeled “eco-friendly,” “organic,” or “green.” Since these labels can sometimes be vague, we need to be aware of the potential for false advertising. “Greenwashing” is a term used to describe companies who deceptively market their products as “green” in order to attract customers. So, keep your wits about you when shopping! Here are ways to tell if a product is truly green:

  • Look for accredited third-party certification
    • For credibility, items are often certified by an independent third party. This provides an objective look at a company’s environmental impact by professionals who understand what makes something genuinely eco-friendly. Look for the FSC label on paper, or Energy Star label on appliances.
  • Look for details
    • If the label uses vague words such as “all natural” or “eco-friendly,” don’t automatically trust it. If a company truly went the extra mile, they would brag about it! Look for details about the product materials, certifications, how it was made, etc. For example, if something says “eco-friendly,” but also says “made from 90% post-consumer recycled content,” they are likely to be more trustworthy. Details indicate that the company is proud of its commitment to sustainability and unafraid to present the facts that prove it.
  • Do your research
    • Certain products are more sustainable than others based on characteristics that require consumer knowledge. For example, bamboo products may not be labeled as “eco-friendly,” although bamboo is a more sustainable material than plastic and certain wood products. If you’re not sure what’s best, never underestimate the importance of a little research.

Event Planning

The Office of Sustainability created a Green Events Checklist in the fall of 2019 to help meeting and event planners reduce waste, support local businesses, and set an example of good environmental stewardship at their event.

Planning events and meetings with food takes work and the additional task of making them more sustainable can be daunting. This checklist aims to provide easy-to-follow tips and procedures to make your gatherings more sustainable. Along with the Green Events Checklist, you’ll find additional resources for planning green events, including a Vendor Request Form, Food Donation Sites, and a Recycling Bin Rental Form. We encourage you to use these resources to increase sustainability and reduce waste at your next event!

For more information or if you have recommendations for additional items to add to these resources, please contact the Office of Sustainability at or call (850) 606-5000.


Recycling helps divert trash from the landfill, save valuable resources, and save energy. It takes significantly less energy and resources to make new products from recycled materials than it does to process and manufacture them from raw materials. Much of what we use is discarded far too quickly compared to the resources it took to extract and refine the products – it makes sense, economically and environmentally, to reuse these materials by recycling them!

Learn more about recycling in Leon County, including free public drop-off locations, rural waste service centers, education programs, etc., by visiting the Solid Waste Management How Do I Recycle page or check out our detailed "What Can Be Recycled" list for acceptable materials.


It is estimated that Americans now buy five times as much clothing as they did in 1980, yet only about 15% of textiles are recycled or donated. Donating goods that you no longer need or use to someone else is one of the most sustainable things you can do. As opposed to dooming an item to the garbage can, you can donate it to a local charity, organization, or give it to a friend! A lot of used items, everything from old appliances, clothing, arts supplies, and household goods, are still valuable and useful.

Locations in Leon County where you can donate your unwanted items


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