Reducing the amount of trash that we generate helps make our environment healthier by limiting pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Help do your part to reduce, reuse, and recycle to limit the amount of trash that Somerville generates.
What You Can Do
City Programs & Initiatives
What You Can Do
Looking for your trash pickup schedule? Not sure what you can recycle? Look no further!
Reducing what you consume is the best way to reduce the amount of waste that you generate. Think before you purchase and consider buying products that will last longer and use less packaging. You’ll also save money if you don’t have to replace your stuff as frequently.
Borrowing or sharing things is another great way to reduce what you consume. You might consider getting your books and movies from the Somerville Public Library, starting a free little library for your neighbors, hosting a clothing swap with friends, starting a tool sharing group with neighbors, or trying out a bike share or car share. Buying less stuff can save you money, reduces clutter, and sharing helps to build community.
Before you throw things out, consider how they might be reused. Donating clothes, furniture, electronics, and more to local organizations will keep your old stuff out of the waste stream and put it to good use.
You can also think about what things you can switch from single-use to reusable. Many of us already bring reusable bags when shopping, but go beyond the bag and bring your lunch in reusable containers, get coffee in your own mug, say no to plastic utensils when eating at home or work, and drink tap water instead of bottled water. The more we can remove from the waste stream, the more sustainable we can be. What else can you reuse?
For the containers and recyclable materials that we can’t stop using entirely, be sure to recycle. Somerville has zero-sort recycling to make recycling as easy as possible. For information on what you can throw in your recycling bin, visit the Waste Wizard.
For more ideas on how to live sustainably, check out our sustainability guide.
City Programs & Initiatives
The City of Somerville has been a leader in working to clean up our trash and to remove known problem pollutants, like plastic bags and foam, from the waste stream. You too can help reduce and clean up our waste stream by putting waste in its place. Trash procedures and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at somervillema.gov/trash.
Plastic Bag Ordinance
In an effort to protect the marine environment from plastic pollution, advance solid waste reduction, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect waterways, in 2015, the Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance restricting the use of single-use plastic bags. As of December 2016, businesses in Somerville are no longer allowed to provide single-use plastic bags at checkout. Find out more about the plastic bag ordinance.
Foam Container Ordinance
In 2013, the Board of Aldermen unanimously passed the polystyrene ordinance, banning businesses in Somerville from using polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam) containers. Polystyrene is made from fossil fuels and does not biodegrade. When not disposed of properly, polystyrene breaks into smaller pieces, polluting ecosystems and creating problems for animals that mistake it for food. Learn more about the ordinance and foam alternatives here: archive.somervillema.gov/foam.
Based on resident demand, the City is actively seeking a good option for curbside compost pick up—and a regional solution may be our best, long-term way forward. In 2015, Mayor Curtatone established a compost task force that diligently prepared the framework for a city-based pilot project. However, the pilot program was put on hold because a sustainable, responsible way to provide composting pick up citywide in the existing regulatory and financial landscape was not feasible. Put simply, in our region, the industry needs to catch up to our demand. The City is currently conducting a financial analysis to determine if a revision of the overall waste program could make composting financially feasible in Somerville. We continue to monitor municipal compost programs throughout the region (and nationwide). Meanwhile, Mayor Curtatone and our state and regional partners are continuing to explore shared approaches. We’ll keep you posted on any updates here and on our Facebook page.
For now, backyard composting is a great option for residents who have outdoor space. The Department of Public Works sells discounted backyard composting bins to help you get started. Compost enthusiasts have also launched compost pickup programs on a smaller scale that would benefit the whole city, but that service may be the right fit for your household.