Zero Waste

According to the EPA, “Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 14.5 percent of these emissions in 2020”. Methane is an even larger cause of climate change than CO2, which is why reducing what goes into the trash is so important. We can all take steps to reduce, reuse, and recycle in order to decrease our carbon footprint. 


Here are some tips on how to reduce your consumption and waste production. Not only will it be better for the environment, but better for your wallet as well.

  • Buy less, buy used, and buy local
  • Buy reusable goods instead of single-use products (e.g. Swedish dish towels instead of paper towels, or silicone baking sheets instead of tin foil or parchment paper)
  • Buy goods with recyclable packaging, or goods that are refillable at dispensaries like Fulfilled Goods
  • Buy products locally where possible instead of having things shipped, so your purchase has a smaller carbon footprint
  • Instead of buying items you need once or infrequently, such as party decorations or tools, borrow from friends or neighbors or rent from places like the Library of Things at the Newton Free Library
  • Reduce food waste by storing extra food in the freezer before it goes bad, storing fruits and vegetables properly, and by planning your meals in advance to use up all the ingredients 
  • If you have food waste, compost it instead of throwing it in the trash or down the disposal – food waste is 30-40% of the waste stream and a large source of methane gas
  • When buying gifts, think of experiences or activities versus physical objects
  • Cook or dine in instead of getting takeout
  • Unsubscribe from catalogs and other mailings


So many household items can be repaired, repurposed, or used by others instead of being thrown away. Reusable goods lessen demand for the production of single-use products.

  • Donate or sell old toys, clothes, and household items at places like the Newton Swap Shop, Cradles to Crayons, Welcome Home, or online marketplaces instead of adding them to the waste stream
  • On the flip side, buy used items when possible from consignment stores and online marketplaces
  • Utilize Recirclable reusable takeout containers at select restaurants (Judith’s Kitchen, Red Lentil, Grape Leaf, and more coming soon!)
  • Repair your clothing, appliances, and electronics instead of replacing them

Here are some of the things that can be donated at the Resource Recovery Center (115 Rumford Ave, Newton):

  • Newton Swap Shop (April through October) – household items (list of accepted items)
  • Newton Book Shed – gently used books
  • More Than Words – CDs, DVDs, books, and games
  • HELPSY – clothing and textiles in any condition (ripped, stained, etc. as long as it’s clean and dry)
  • Latex paint shed (May through October) – latex paint (usable, less than 10 years old, more than half full, and never been frozen)

You can find additional HELPSY bins for textiles located throughout Newton at most public schools.


So many items can be recycled instead of thrown in the trash, so if you have something truly no longer usable, take a moment to determine how best to recycle it. The Recycle Right tool is a great way to look up specific items to learn what can be recycled in Newton and where.

For more details on what can be brought to the Resource Recovery Center for recycling or disposal, click here.

Newton Resource Recovery Center

Swap Shop grand opening in 2018. Photo Credit: Jonathan Yeo


Over 30% of food waste ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and emits large amounts of methane. Reducing your food waste by composting is a great way to reduce your impact. Click here to learn more about composting and to get started with Black Earth Compost’s curbside pick-up program. The more Newton residents that sign up, the cheaper the service becomes! 

Black Earth Compost

By making small changes to our lifestyles, we can make a huge difference in reducing waste that contributes to climate change. For more zero waste tips, see our recent blog posts about reducing, reusing and recycling.

Zero Waste Tips: