Solid Waste Management Program

Green Tips For Every Occasion

Earth Day comes each April as a reminder to love our planet and take good care of her, but shouldn't everyday be Earth Day?  There is no occasion too small, or holiday too large to keep green!  The Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Management Program has tips to keep your entire year environmentally friendly.

 Aquariums | Back to School | Backyard Barbecues | Camping | Construction and Demolition Waste | Fall Holidays |
Gardening | Green Meetings | Leftover Latex Paint | St. Patrick's Day | Tailgating | Used Oil | Used Tires |
Valentine's Day | Weddings | Winter Holidays | Workouts

image of gold fish

Fish lovers can be green too by using a few simple tips. While you are cleaning your aquarium, don’t flush away the water from your aquarium it because you can use that water to feed your garden and plants. Draining the aquarium means taking out fish waste and decayed food particles, but that water also contains helpful bacteria and all the trace nutrients plants need to survive including phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, iron, etc. This “fertilizer” water can do wonders for your plants.

Using fish byproducts is not a new idea. Native Americans were adding fish to soil when growing crops to increase yields and food production. Additionally, instead of flushing fish down the drain when they die, bury them in your garden soil for added fertilization.

Fish emulsion products are available at your local store but if you have an aquarium, it is the perfect local source. Plus, you’re not flushing the water down the drain anymore either.

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Drawing of a hamburger.
Backyard Barbecues

The first thing a summer griller must decide is gas or charcoal?  Try to choose cleaner burning propane for gas grills. However, if charcoal is your preference look for lump brands.  Some lump brands are made from sustainable forest timber.  If the fire needs a little help getting started, use a chimney starter rather than lighter fluid to get it going. This cuts down on chemicals released into the air.

When it comes to choosing what to place on your grill, visit your local farmer’s markets for fresh produce.  By purchasing locally, energy is saved from not transporting the produce from great distances.  If possible, look for locally raised and processed meat to further reduce energy consumption. 

When setting the table, purchase reusable products such as flatware, silverware and cloth napkins.  For a unique look, use bandanas for napkins and old quilts for tablecloths.  If this isn’t possible, use paper plates and napkins with recycled content and plastic cups that are biodegradable and can be composted.  For the kid’s table, a Frisbee covered in wax paper makes a great plate, which can be turned over and used for fun after the meal is finished.  After dinner, try to compost as much of the food scraps as possible, and enjoy the outdoor weather, no air-conditioning required.

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camping clipart

Summer time is known for warm weather, great food and family vacations.  Camping can be an environmentally friendly experience; however, so many times it’s the small details that are taken for granted.  If extra time and attention are given to a few details, you can benefit economically and the environment will not be affected as well. To make your next camping trip a truly “green” experience consider incorporating the following tips.

A camping trip generally starts with packing. Make a list of everything you anticipate needing for the trip and go shopping only once. It is more efficient and will save you fuel and money.  Look for a tent or sleeping bag made from recycled materials at your local camping supply store if you don’t already have one.  Bring reusable dishes that can be used for years, and a bucket with biodegradable soap to wash them in rather than purchasing paper or Styrofoam one-use plates and plastic utensils. Bring dish towels from home instead of paper towels. Bring storage containers for leftovers instead of plastic bags. Look for solar powered cook stoves and crank powered radios and flashlights.Use citronella candles instead of bug sprays that contain chemicals.  The candles are an excellent way to repel insects.

You may want to consider camping this summer in one of the most beautiful park systems in the country.  Missouri’s State Parks System provides a variety of locations and activities aimed at pleasing every family member. Remember to pick a location close to home to reduce gas consumption and save a little money. Enjoy nature by playing outside or taking a hike instead of using the RV’s generator to power a television or game systems. Stay in designated camping areas to avoid disturbing plant and wildlife if you are spending a night under the stars in a tent. Use energy efficient lighting sources such as LED lanterns and flashlights. Pick up all trash and recyclables, so you leave the campsite in the same condition it was in when you arrived. If the campsite does not have recycling bins, take those items back home and recycle them when you return.

One of the best parts of camping is the cooking.  Use the campsite grill, if available, instead of bringing a cook stove or propane grill. Use firewood that may be available for purchase at the campground store or charcoal with a chimney starter to avoid releasing chemicals into the air with lighter fluid. Research recipes online before you go camping to find recipes that can be made over a campfire. Purchase produce for your trip from the local farmers market.

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clipart of home building
Construction and Demolition Waste

As Missouri communities continue to grow, older buildings are being renovated or demolished.  Properly managing the waste during the demolition will prevent threats to human health and the environment.

The department regulates demolition and renovation projects for institutional, commercial, public and industrial structures.  The department also regulates residential structure projects such as apartment buildings with more than four units or two or more residential structures within 500 feet of each other.  Single residential structures containing four units or less are exempted from the demolition notification and inspection requirements.

All construction and demolition waste must be properly disposed of at a permitted transfer station or landfill regardless of whether it was generated from a regulated project or a non-regulated single residential structure.  Before a regulated renovation or demolition project begins, the business or entity requesting the work should make the waste disposal a part of the contract.  This will deflect liability if the waste is not properly managed and should be considered by the contractors during the bid process.

Demolition or renovation operations can create several different kinds of waste including clean fill, recovered materials, regulated wastes, hazardous waste and asbestos containing materials.  For more information on these wastes and its proper uses or disposal, call the department at 1-800-361-4827 or (573) 751-5401 or visit Construction and Demolition Waste.

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Drawing of pumpkins.
Fall Holidays

Fall is a wonderful time to visit the local farmers’ market for pumpkins, squash, apples and other seasonal favorites. Locally grown produce is usually grown within a 100 mile radius, and purchasing locally saves valuable energy as well as helping the local economy. While some pumpkins can be used for pies, other pumpkins, gourds and melons may be cut up and composted once the season is over.  Fall is the perfect time to start your own compost pile at home.  Yard trimmings, vegetative food waste including fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, and coffee grounds and filters can all be placed in a compost bin.

For Halloween or fall celebrations, instead of purchasing a new costume, second hand clothing or thrift shops provide a wide array of costume choices with just a little bit of imagination.  If there is not a local thrift store, consider homemade costumes or renting a costume.  While trick-or-treating, take a reusable bucket or bag instead of a disposable bag for candy.  Also, if the weather is pleasant, stick close to the neighborhood and walk from house to house instead of driving. Finally, in place of sending paper greeting cards or invitations, consider emailing friends and family, or giving them a phone call.

Consider purchasing reusable tableware and use it throughout the year instead of disposable plates and utensils. While shopping for food and goodies, remember to bring reusable shopping bags.  If you have a large gathering, plan ahead and provide bags or bins for your guests’ recyclable items and take them to the community recycling center.  Again, appropriate food scraps may be composted after the meal.

Make an effort to celebrate the holidays close to home. However, if traveling is necessary for the holidays, make sure vehicles have the correct tire pressure for optimal gas mileage and carpool whenever possible. If the weather is nice, turn down the thermostat a little and go outside and play a game to keep warm.

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Drawing of a watering can.

Tires were banned from Missouri landfills in 1990, and every year millions of tires find reuse in playground materials (crumb rubber and whole tire scrap) and are burned as tire derived fuel in coal power plants and cement kilns. However, there are still thousands of tires that end up in illegal dumps - these dumps provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other vermin, and are difficult to extinguish if ignited. One creative use for old tires is as planters in your garden. After very carefully cutting off one side wall on a large tire, gardeners can place the tire in their garden and fill it with soil, manure or compost. The tires retain a bit more heat to aid in growing, and when used as a raised bed they warm faster. Raised gardens can increase spring soil temperatures by 8 to 13° F over nearby soil temperatures at ground level. The black, heat-absorbing tires compound the warming effect.

If space is at a premium, use plastic bottles or other plastic items to start a garden. Buckets, soda bottles and plastic containers make excellent potting sources for small plants. As long as the containers have proper drainage and adequate amounts of sunlight and water, they make wonderful substitutes for a larger garden. Use your imagination for alternatives to the standard flower pots - old dresser drawers or wooden boxes, metal buckets and washtubs and hollowed out gourds all make unique planters, and are a great way to reuse and recycle items that might otherwise be discarded. Cut into short pieces, metal and vinyl mini-blinds make great plant markers, and clean nylon hose are useful for tying plants to trellises or fences. To protect small plants from a late frost, cut the bottom off a milk jug and use the top to cover them.

Create a showcase for your plants by using a roller skate as a base for the plant container, or planting summer grasses in an old boot or galoshes. An old child’s wagon or wheelbarrow makes a great mobile plant container, and a vintage bird cage can be planted and hung from a front porch for a wonderful old-fashioned look.

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Graphic of managers at a table.
Green Meetings

What makes a meeting Green?


The idea that green meetings are more expensive is a myth.  In fact, green meetings are a good way to save money.  Eventually green meetings will no longer be an option.  As corporations feel pressure to be as environmentally friendly and as fiscally responsible as possible, green meetings will become a requirement.

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas donates the food waste from all their restaurants and banquet facilities to a local hog farm, saving disposal costs for the MGM Grand and feed costs for the hog farmer. Caterers can save 50 to 62 percent by buying condiments in bulk, and can pass that savings along to the venue and in turn you as the customer. By adopting just one environmentally responsible practice meeting managers can reduce consumption of the earth’s resources & their organization’s expenses.

Creating a green meeting


Consuming Resources and Carbon Footprints

Schoolbus picture

Back to School Shopping – Going Green

Back to school shopping is very exciting, but before heading out to the stores there are a few things to consider. 


Back to School – Recycling

Is the sight of fellow students throwing away perfectly good recyclables making you cringe? 

Cure the cringe by starting a recycling program at school, or if your school already has recycling, encourage and educate classmates about the importance of recycling.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Just remember, we impact our environment by the choices we make every day.


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