Reducing Waste and Keeping Santa Fe Clean

Recycling truck

On July 14th, Santa Fe’s Environmental Services Division will be sponsoring the Detroit Lightning, one of the Santa Fe Summer Series concerts, a zero-waste event.

Waste reduction, diversion, and management is a critical element of Santa Fe’s plan for climate action. Decreasing the amount of waste going into landfills and our environment not only keeps our city and natural surroundings clean — it also conserves natural resources, reduces energy consumption, and mitigates our contribution to climate change by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced by decomposing landfill waste.

Santa Fe’s Waste Disposal

In order to effectively manage waste, we first need to track and measure the waste that our city already sends to the landfill. In 2018, prior to the passage of the Sustainable Santa Fe 25-Year Plan, the average resident in Santa Fe disposed about 4.6 lbs of waste per day, which was slightly under the 2018 national average of 4.9 lbs per day.

City of Santa Fe’s Waste Disposal Rate, 2018-2022

Since then, the city’s waste generation has slightly trended down, with waste generation in 2022 standing at 4.2 lbs per day – this follows a national pattern, as average waste generation nationally now stands around 4.5 lbs per day. In order to truly drive down these numbers, Santa Fe is focusing on helping businesses and residents recycle better and more often, increase reuse in the city, and create a more circular economy.

The best way to address waste? Waste less.

As of 2023, Santa Fe Environmental Services collects recycling from over 31,000 customers weekly. While increasing knowledge and participation in our recycling programs can help limit pollution and ensure that waste is properly disposed of, the most important step to address waste in Santa Fe is reducing our waste overall. That means eliminating unnecessary production and consumption, reducing packaging, and increasing the reuse of items. At home, waste reduction can be opting for reusable alternatives to single use items, limiting unnecessary purchases, shopping secondhand and lower-waste, or setting up a home composting system. 

Call to Action

Every member of our city can help drive down Santa Fe’s waste generation rate, limit our climate impacts, and help to keep our environment clean. To get started on your own waste reduction strategies, use these tips:

  1. Recycle Right
    1. Our recycling program depends on YOU! Learn about what is recyclable in Santa Fe and know your recycling collection schedule
  2. Don’t forget to reduce and reuse
    1. Bring your own bag – Santa Fe’s Reusable Bag Ordinance banned most single-use plastic shopping bags in the city.
    2. Utilize reusable items over disposables and take care of items you already own to prevent them from needing to be thrown away.
    3. Rather than tossing them in the bin, donate items you no longer need. For items that just can’t be reused, consider finding new uses (like using stained or torn clothing as rags for cleaning tasks, or upcycling old jars and bottles as useful or decorative pieces).
  3. Keep our city clean
    1. To keep our city beautiful and limit pollution, try to properly dispose litter you see in streets and parks. Want to make a habit out of cleaning up our environment? Try practicing Two on Tuesday by committing to picking up two pieces of litter every week – reversing litter in Santa Fe one Tuesday at a time.
    2. Register for a cleanup with Keep Santa Fe Beautiful, an organization committed to keeping our community clean, green, and beautiful.