Are you Wish-cycling?

Wish-cycling is the practice of placing items into recycling bins that cannot be recycled. It stems from the best intentions. You wish or hope that something you’ve bought or use regularly can be recycled. We all like to feel good about our recycling efforts, so much so that perhaps we feel good when our recycling bin is full. But as this video shows, putting cartons and bags in our recycling bins only causes more work for the sorting facilities by tangling their machinery and generating trash.

Common recycling mistakes can cause big problems (

Massachusetts has created a Recycle Smart widget that can help you when you are not sure what to do with an item.

And we can tell you about the items that are filling the wish cycling sculpture on the lawn of the Munroe Center for Arts, located at 1403 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington.

Milk, juice, broth cartons, and frozen food boxes are not recyclable. Such cartons and boxes contain a plastic coating that can’t be separated from the paper base.

Chip and snack bags are not recyclable. Plastic bags tangle the sorting machinery.

Black plastic food containers are not recyclable. Recycling facilities sort plastics by bouncing a beam of light off them. Since black plastic absorbs light, it can’t be sorted so it is sent for disposal.

If you don’t feel great about trashing these items, there are alternatives. Milk, juice and broth can be purchased packaged in other containers. LexZeroWaste is asking more restaurants to participate in our ZeroToGo program that uses reusable take-out containers. As for chips, well you know the alternative already: veggies, nuts and fruit for snacks instead…

Zero Waste Actions you can take now…

Thanks to LexCAN and Cary Library for hosting the film “Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet” and follow-up discussion last night. We were happy to participate and have the opportunity to put together a one-pager that lists actions each of us can take NOW related to Zero Waste and a Circular Economy.

For those who would like to view the movie, it’s available for streaming on Netflix here.

Reduce Waste at Events

LexZeroWaste is starting a campaign to eliminate the practice of providing single use water bottles at events in Lexington.

Instead, we are asking organizations to promote using reusable options at all events. Are you a member or leader of a group that hosts events for the public or your members?

Please see this flier we created for a few ideas about reducing waste at your events. And please feel free to incorporate this badge into your promotional materials!

Waste Free Holiday Wrapping!

This time of year, each household typically uses 4 rolls of gift wrapping paper. Did you know wrapping paper is usually made of a mix of different paper types, shiny glitter (a microplastic) or foil, and bright dyes? This means wrapping paper can’t be recycled and in n the U.S., about 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper is disposed of every year.

For a zero waste holiday, consider wrapping gifts with cloth – a Japanese tradition and art form called “furoshiki”. Fabric pieces, dish towels, or specific furoshiki wraps can be used. Add a recycled gift tag and your gift giving can be waste free.

You can find a variety of different types of reusable fabric wraps and bags at Center Goods on Waltham St or create your own – using a scarf, t-shirt, or a piece of fabric. Here’s a hint: a 30 inch square piece of fabric will wrap a shoe box,or book. A 40 inch square should be enough for a board game or sweater box. The trick is to place the box at an angle! Here’s a link to one of many websites that demonstrate different ways to wrap gifts with furoshiki.

Happy Gift-Giving from LexZeroWaste!

Array of Furoshiki options available at Center Goods

ZeroToGo Pilot Restarts 12/1

We are excited to announce that ZeroToGo, the pilot program for reusable takeout containers will start again at Royal India Bistro on December 1st. For this second phase of the pilot, we’ll be partnering with Recirclable, LLC to track the reusable containers, and participation will not require LexZeroWaste membership. Read more here.

Community Art as Advocacy: Are You What You Eat?

Almost everyday, there’s a story in the news about how plastic production and plastic waste impact our climatehealth, and environment.

Did you know that many single-use food/drink packaging containing plastic is not recyclable? Or that it’s been estimated that the average person consumes about a credit card’s weight worth of microplastics weekly?

In celebration of Earth Day in May, we’re collaborating again with our sustainability allies at the Munroe Center for the Arts on a “wish-cycling” sculpture of a larger than life-sized person relaxing on a bench. Created from chicken wire recycled from last year’s sculpture and filled with the packaging materials left over from food and drink consumed by community members, the sculpture is meant to raise awareness about certain types of packaging that is not recyclable, as well as highlight the amount of plastic that we ingest unknowingly, the potential for harm, and what we can do as individuals and a community to change our habits for the betterment of all.

This year, we’re focusing on aseptic food and drink packaging made from composite materials–plastic/paper/aluminum–that render them unrecyclable, namely juice/milk/broth/goldfish cartons and foil-lined chips bags.

Participate in this art activity by saving your aseptic packaging waste items and adding them to the sculpture on the front lawn of the Munroe Center for the Arts  (1403 Massachusetts Ave).

The filled sculpture creates a visual impact of these non-recyclable plastics, which could eventually become microplastics that end up in our bodies, air, water and soil.

Are There Alternatives?

    • Choose plastic-free packaging if possible: 

Dairy Milk:

If you drink dairy milk, consider buying returnable/reusable glass bottled milk, for example, from Crescent Ridge. Their bottled milk is usually available locally from LexFarm, Wright-Locke Farm, Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, and Wegmans. Check the Crescent Ridge website for other local retail or delivery options.

DIY Plant-Based Milk:

If you drink plant-based milk and have a blender, you can make your own almond milk following this 1-minute recipe:

    • ¼ cup almond butter (or 64g)*

    • 32 oz water

Blend for 1 minute.

* If you have a power blender, such as a Vitamix, you can also use whole raw or roasted almonds, and blend for 2-3 minutes. If you’d like to avoid single-use packaging, you can buy almonds from Debra’s Refillery in Concord which allows you to bring your own containers to refill.

* You can also substitute almond with other nuts/seeds.

What Else Can You Do?

    • As you collect your aseptic packaging waste to add to the sculpture, make an inventory of the brands on the packaging.

    • Write to the companies using these unrecyclable, single-use packaging, and ask them to transition to a returnable/reusable packaging system.

    • Write to your legislators and ask them to sponsor bills that advance reuse/refill solutions to our waste problem.

Other Ideas

If you have other ideas about alternative solutions and actions, send them to us at, and we’ll add them to this page.

Zero Waste Plan Underway for Lexington

LexZeroWaste is pleased to announce that following the adoption by Town Meeting on April 6, 2022 of Article 27, a Zero Waste Resolution for Lexington put forth by LexZeroWaste’s Advocacy Working Group, working group Co-Chairs Hien Nguyen and Janet Kern have accepted an invitation from Director of Public Works David Pinsonneault to serve as members of the Town’s Zero Waste Plan working group.

The Town of Lexington’s Department of Public Works has engaged the services of consultants
from Zero Waste Associates, Ruth Abbe and Amy Perlmutter, to facilitate the development of a
Zero Waste Plan for Lexington with the input of Town staff and residents, as stated in the
Resolution. Abbe and Perlmutter have developed zero waste plans for Boston and Brookline,
and dozens of other municipalities throughout the country.

“Janet and I are honored to serve on the Zero Waste Plan working group and excited to
continue our productive partnership with Town staff to craft a Zero Waste Plan that will provide a road map for our community to move closer to zero waste and minimize our impact on environmental justice communities,” said Hien Nguyen.

Under the leadership of Mr. Pinsonneault, additional members of the Zero Waste Plan working group include Superintendent of Environmental Services Robert Beaudoin; Sustainability & Resilience Officer Margaret Peard; and Waste Reduction Task Force members Cindy Arens and Diane Pursley, who responded to Mr. Pinsonneault’s invitation for two members of the Town Manager-appointed task force to serve on the Zero Waste Plan working group. LexZeroWaste members Arens and Pursley also serve on the Waste Reduction Task Force as representatives of LPS Green Teams.

The scope of work for the Zero Waste Plan includes listening sessions that Zero Waste
Associates will conduct with key stakeholders, which could include school representatives,
community organizations, business representatives, environmental and environmental justice
organizations, and local and regional service providers. Town residents will also have theopportunity to respond to an online survey to provide input on the barriers and opportunities for
reducing waste and increasing recycling and composting in Lexington.

The Zero Waste Plan working group convened on June 16th for the first of four planned
meetings with the objective of producing a practical, action-oriented Zero Waste Plan by Fall

Community Art as Advocacy: Let’s Rethink Black Plastics

Earth Day Sculpture welcomes your black plastic!

Did you know that black plastic is not recyclable?

LexZeroWaste and the Munroe Center for the Arts are collaborating again for Earth Day 2022.

We’re reprising a sculpture activity from last year that combines art and zero waste to continue to raise awareness about ubiquitous materials in our household trash that are not recyclable. This year, we’re focusing on black plastics: food containers, utensils, seedling pots and trays, shampoo bottles, etc.

Participate in this art activity by saving your black plastic waste items and adding them to the sculpture on the front lawn of the Munroe Center for the Arts  (1403 Massachusetts Ave).

These black plastics may be labeled #1, #2, or #5 plastic––which are technically recyclable––but due to their black pigment, the optical scanners at the recycling facilities are unable to detect and sort them to be recycled. Instead they end up as “residue” and get treated as trash.

Let’s come together as a community to create and celebrate art while raising awareness about non-recyclable materials in our daily lives.

What Else Is Not Recyclable?

Zero Waste Resolution Passes!

Thank you to all those who voiced their support for the Zero Waste Resolution for Lexington. Last night, by a vote of 174-4-8 for Article 27, Lexington Town Meeting adopted the resolution, including agreeing to adopt zero waste principles and encouraging a zero waste plan!

So what does this exactly mean for Lexington? Well, this was a “non-binding resolution”, meaning that the Town is not obligated to take any action. However, it is a strong statement that Town Meeting would very much like to have a plan developed as soon as possible that will offer solutions for town wide waste reduction. We are already working with the Town’s Waste Reduction Task Force and the DPW on these issues. The adoption of this resolution will encourage and hopefully accelerate that work.

If you are not already a LexZeroWaste member, please consider joining to support and contribute to continued efforts to reduce waste in Lexington! We look forward to hearing from and working with you!

2nd Annual Upcycled Art Contest

In honor of Earth Day 2022, LexZeroWaste is holding its 2nd Annual Student Upcycled Art Contest. We invite students in grades K-12 to create an original piece of art from items that would normally be thrown away. Potential materials include items like candy or snack food wrappers, plastic straws, styrofoam, used milk cartons, pet food bags, plastics that can’t be recycled (black plastics and #s 3, 6, and 7 plastics), and any items smaller than 2″ in size which would literally fall through the cracks of the recycling sorting machines and not get recycled. All entrants are encouraged to be creative and use as many non-recyclable, non-compostable waste items as possible! See below for examples of waste materials to use in your artwork.

Submission Guidelines
To participate in the contest, please upload a clear digital photo of the artwork via this form by 5 pm, Thursday, May 12, 2022. Entries will be evaluated by a panel of local artists, including collage artist Mandy Settembre, painter Judy Ellen Sanders, and painter Amantha Tsaros.

Winners will be notified via email by Saturday, May 14th. In the spirit of reuse, winners will receive prize baskets of gently used or like new arts and crafts supplies that have been generously donated by members of our community. If you have items that may be suitable for inclusion in the prize baskets, donations are still being accepted. Please contact Anne Richtarik to arrange any possible donations, or if you have questions about the contest.