What to do When you Have no Glass Recycling

We got a wonderful question that I wanted to go in depth with:

“Our valley has over fifty wineries but NO glass recycling. It’s an enormous problem. It’s too expensive for the city to pay to haul it to Seattle to the glass crusher there. Eeek. Any suggestions?”  

Unfortunately, the United States is currently in a recycling crisis. Even if your city does offers glass recycling, less than 10% will actually GET recycled. This is because glass has a low market value, meaning it costs more to transport it (due to the fragility and weight) process it (glass needs to be separated by color), all in addition to the cost of contamination,  According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

Even so, it is still a shame. Glass is a sustainable material because of the closed-loop system, it can be 100% recycled indefinitely without the loss in quality. If you are interested in some more information about glass, check out all these fun facts at Glass Packaging Institute.

So the question remains, what can be done about this issue?

Here are two steps that can be implemented into your lifestyle:

  1. Reuse glass containers- This is a personal tip I have done for years! I wash and save various glass containers such as; spaghetti sauce, applesauce, salsa jars, and anything of the likes that would make a great container or water bottle. I then reuse them as food storage containers (no expensive pyrex or mason jars for this gal), use them in creative projects, or will implement them in gifts or containers to send food home with friends.
  2. Be Mindful of what you are using- keep track of the glass packaging you are using, are you able to eliminate any of it? For instance, if you are able to, could you make your own spaghetti or applesauce? If you have access to a farmers market can you possibly can or jar some of your own food? This is always permitting you have the time and resources, but if you are ever looking for a new hobby it is certainly something to explore, there are even groups and communities dedicated to food preservation! This would eliminate the need to buy these items at the grocery store while reusing pre-existing glass containers.

Here are some additional steps that can be taken:

    1. Speak to wineries about creating a bring back program. These are becoming increasingly popular as they are eco-friendly and economically beneficial. Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery is an excellent example to model after!
    2. Refill local Wine and Beer in stainless steel growlers. A growler is traditionally a glass, ceramic or stainless steel jug that transports draft beer for people to take home, drink, and then refill and use again. Now they are widely being used to purchase wine and come in a variety of different fun shapes and sizes! 
    3. stainless steel growler
    4. Write and call your city representatives. Never underestimate your ability to make a change. Gather a group and contact representative voicing your concern and brainstorm a solution.
    5. Check out Earth911 find your closest collection center. Save up your glass then drop them off at the proper site.

At this point in time, it is up to the individual to make sure these materials are properly disposed of or recycled. It shouldn't have to be this way, and hopefully, it won't always be up to the consumer to navigate the maze of doing the right thing. But for now, until our single-use culture shifts, it is up to each and every one of us to create that change and to encourage others to do the same.

Best of Luck!

Have questions about zero-waste living, sustainability, or environmentalism? Post your questions on our Sustainable Havasu facebook page or email them to zippnada@gmail.com