Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

First reduce, then reuse, and then recycle!

Reduce & Reuse

On September 26th, 2023 the Single-use Plastics and Polystyrene Working Group presented an impact study into the effects of single-use plastics on Santa Fe County to the Board of County Commissioners. The final report includes a proposed draft ordinance prohibiting the use of single-use plastic and polystyrene products in Santa Fe County.

In the United States, we generate more trash than any other country in the world. Each person in the United States produces 2,600 pounds of trash per year. Imagine if your trash was not collected and landfilled by a local government. Collecting and disposing of waste is one of the highest expenses for local governments—that means tax dollars. Recycling is good for resource conservation, but transporting recyclables to manufacturers poses many problems too. That is why the best way to manage waste is not to produce it in the first place.

Tips for reducing the trash you generate

  • Pack a waste free-lunch. Use jars or other reusable containers instead of packaging in single-use plastic bags.
  • Purchase cloth napkins instead of disposal ones. Use metal cutlery and reusable lunchboxes instead of disposable bags.
  • Learn to repair your things. Frequently a straightforward fix can make a broken item last a lot longer, and with the internet so accessible, instructions for most repairs can easily be found online.
  • Cancel unnecessary mail. No one likes junk mail! Do an online search for how to cancel junk mail in your region. You will find options to enter your name and address to opt out of unwanted catalogs and other junk mail.
  • Avoid disposable plastics. Every time you leave your residence, make sure you remember your reusable water bottle. Not only will this save you money, but you will avoid consumption of any plastic chemicals that may have leached from the bottle into the water.
  • Avoid paper cups. Paper cups are not recyclable because of the petroleum-based liner that keeps the paper from getting wet. Every year, in the United States, we consume enough paper cups to fill the Empire State Building 49 times. Reduce your impact by bringing your own cup. Most coffee shops offer a discount when you do!
  • Keep finding new ways to reduce your waste. Remember that reducing waste is different for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another.

Tips for reusing items

Aluminum foil: Take your used foil and give the grill a good scrub when you’re done cooking.
Newspaper: Use newspaper on your windows for a streak-free clean!
Paper towel & toilet paper rolls: Get that drawer of cords organized but folding them around these tubes. Many preschools and children's centers will accept them for crafts. Also, they help aerate compost
Tissue boxes: These work great as a garbage receptacle on the bathroom counter.
Plastic bottles: Cut off the top to create a funnel.

Recycle Right

Recycling helps the planet and can even save you money! It is free to drop off household recycling, like plastic bottles, cardboard, glass, and aluminum, at any County convenience center.

Check out the links below for local recycling guidance!

  • Santa Fe County Recycling: Santa Fe County Solid Waste accepts recycling at six convenience centers throughout the County. Visit the County recycling page to learn more about what is accepted.
  • Santa Fe County Recycling Flyer: This flyer is available in English and Spanish for a quick reminder of what is accepted in the mixed recycling bin at County convenience centers. 
  • City of Santa Fe Recycle Coach: This application allows you to search for recycling instructions by item. City and County residents follow the same guidelines for mixed recyclables that are collected curbside by the City or in the mixed recycling bins at County convenience centers. Not sure if you can recycle that yogurt container or milk carton? Ask the Recycle Coach!
  • Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency (SFSWMA): SFSWMA operates the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station (BuRRT). This facility accepts recycling and trash from County residents. Accepted materials include household hazardous waste, appliances, electronic waste, green waste, scrap metal, tires, glass, and mixed recyclables. Fees apply to certain materials. Visit the SFSWMA website or call (505) 820-0208 for details.

Recycling Tips

  • Know what goes where. Recycling guidelines vary by location depending on the equipment that is available. The City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County follow the same recycling guidelines. Click here to learn what is accepted for recycling in the County. Contamination in recycling bins can impact worker safety, damage equipment, and result in material being sent to the landfill. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Check the size. Items smaller than a post card cannot be handled by the recycling facility and should be composted or landfilled. Shredded paper may be placed in a clear plastic bag for recycling.
  • Clean it out. Make sure recyclables are empty, clean, and dry.
  • Do not bag recyclables, except for shredded paper. Place recyclables loose in the appropriate container. The only exception is for shredded paper, which should be placed in a clear plastic bag.


Michael Carr
Sustainability Specialist
(505) 995-9515