Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle

Video: Sustainability Manager and Yorktown Elementary School Students Deciding What Everyday Items Are Recyclable in Bowie

You may have heard the old adage of "reduce, reuse, recycle", but have you ever stopped to think about why they are listed in this order? These three opportunities are listed in order of priority -- it is better for us to minimize our impact on the environment by simply using less from the start and removing excess waste from our waste stream. This may include using reusable grocery bags, reusable water bottles, and Tupperware instead of single-use plastic sandwich bags. Then, when an item outgrows its usefulness, look for possible ways to reuse it. This is sometimes referred to as upcycling. Finally, when something is at the end of its life cycle or cannot be reused, it is time to recycle it. 

Recyclable items


Naturally, the easiest way to have less waste is to not create it in the first place. Of course this isn't always possible but by following the simple tips below, you'll be surprised at how much less waste we can generate as a community! Some tips are:

  • Buy in bulk to reduce packaging
  • Take reusable bags to carry your purchases home
  • Purchase a reusable water bottle
  • Say "no" to a plastic straw when out to eat
  • Take your coffee mug instead of using disposable cups and avoid single use k-cups 
  • Choose to "go paperless" when possible for bills
  • Print double-sided and in grayscale; you'll save ink, paper, and money!

For more information on waste reduction strategies, visit Prince George's County's Source Reduction webpage.


There are many uses for all sorts of things around the house. 

  • Upcycling is the reuse of discarded objects in such a way to create a product of higher quality or something different than the value of the original. For example, you can use old pasta jars and mason jars as in-home herb gardens, you can use toilet paper rolls to paint with the kids and create decorations, and you can use plastic 2-liter containers as mini rain barrels for your garden. 
  • Donate: You can also donate items you and your family no longer need to places like local animal rescues, food banks, crisis centers, and larger organizations like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Purple Heart. See list of local organizations accepting donations.
  • Freecycle is a great way to give or get items from others in the community. Bowie has a chapter, so before you throw away that old cell phone charger or buy a new one, visit the freecycle website to see if one of the 3,000+ people on there might need it or be giving away something that you have been meaning to buy! If not, please bring your old electronics to the dropboxes provided at Best Buy, or the next City of Bowie Electronics Recycling Day.


The City is proud to offer weekly curbside recycling pickup for residents. The City's recycling service is "single stream," which means that all acceptable items (paper, plastic containers, glass, aluminum cans, etc.) may all go in the same bin. Residents can use the recycling carts that were delivered to each city household, pick up a blue recycling bin at City Hall, or use any trash can or other container as long as it is clearly marked "RECYCLING." 

All recycling must be placed at the curb by 7 a.m. on your scheduled collection day. Pickup days vary by neighborhood. 

Items that should not be recycled include (but not limited to):

  • Styrofoam
  • #4 and #6 plastics
  • Plastics without a number
  • Cellophane
  • Napkins and paper towels
  • Dog food bags
  • Candy wrappers
  • Chip bags
  • Straws
  • Plastic utensils/cutlery
  • Items that are not properly rinsed out

These items often show up in recycling carts but shouldn't. All of these items can contaminate the rest of the recyclable items, putting the whole truckload in danger of being sent over to the landfill instead! Make it count, rinse it out!

For more information on all things recycling, or for a presentation to your school, scout group, church, etc., please contact Ashleigh Diaz at 301-809-3044 or email Ashleigh Diaz