Your City government and its partners provide many services to help you lead a more socially, economically, and environmentally-sustainable life here in the Bend.
To learn about what is already going on, here are some tips and links to help you take advantage of opportunities to live more sustainably in South Bend.
- Every year Americans generate 250 million tons of trash, or 4.3 pounds per person per day.
- Waste decomposing in landfills contributes around 10% of a typical household’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
In South Bend, the City and the Solid Waste Management District make it easy to dispose of our waste in the least harmful and most responsible way.
Why it Matters
- Every ton of recycled office paper saves enough energy to power an average home for six months, saves 7,000 gallons of water, and saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
- Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators.
- Recycling prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials.
The Solid Waste Management District of St. Joseph County provides a mandatory curbside recycling program for all residents in the county. Recycling totes are emptied bi-weekly by Borden Waste Away. Find your recycling pick-up schedule HERE. City Residents pay $1.97 per month for this service. Only locations eligible for City trash collection are eligible for curbside recycling. Glass, metal, plastic, and paper are accepted - for more details on acceptable and unacceptable materials, visit HERE,
To order a FREE recycling cart, call Borden Waste-Away Service at (574)293-5001 or (800)683-6801.
Business Recycling Resources are available HERE.
Learn what to take where, from styrofoam to wedding dresses, at the Community Recycling Information Center, sponsored by IU South Bend’s Center for a Sustainable Future.
The City of South Bend picks up waste to take to the landfill and pays the Solid Waste Management District a tipping fee for each ton of trash deposited at the landfill.
“Trash” does not include:
- Yard waste
- Tree limbs
- Used motor oil
- Construction debris
- Electronics, TVs, or non-alkaline batteries
- Recyclable material
- Other hazardous material
Find Trash Rates & Containers information HERE
Why it Matters
- Yard waste has value and shouldn't be taking up space in the landfill.
- Composting creates a product that can be used to help improve soils, grow the next generation of crops, and improve water quality.
- Burning yard waste at home is banned within South Bend city limits. It causes air pollution from carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, is a fire hazard, and is a nuisance to neighbors.
What to do with yard waste:
- Leave mown grass clippings on the lawn to decompose and return nutrients back to the soil, rather than bagging and disposing of them.
- Instead of hauling yard waste to the curb, create a backyard compost pile. Use this compost in your backyard garden or outdoor potted plants.
- For a description of composting, ideas, and citizen actions, see the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's Fact Sheet, "Backyard Composting."
- Leaf and Christmas tree pick-up are also offered by the city. Call 311 for details.
Weekly yard waste collection occurs from mid-April through Thanksgiving and is automatically on your trash day.
- Yard waste must be in paper bags, a 35 gallon or smaller container which weighs no more than 35 lbs, or in a city yard waste container for collection.
- Placing yard waste in plastic bags is no longer allowed as of January 1, 2014.
- Call 311 or (574)233-0311 to order a yard waste container (minimum charge is $16.00 annually).
- Yard waste should be placed at the curb by 6:00 a.m. on service day.
- More details on where, when, and what can be found HERE
Electronics, including TVs and computers, are a special kind of household waste that should not go in the regular trash. The Solid Waste Management District of St. Joseph County collects obsolete electronics at the Household Hazardous Waste Center located at 828 Kerr St in South Bend. St. Joseph County residents can deliver electronics to this HHW site during regular business hours, 8:30 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. Monday - Friday and 8:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. on Saturday. Electronics from businesses or institutions will be accepted only through prior arrangement with the District.
A list of electronics accepted free of charge can be found HERE
Why it Matters
Proper disposal prevents pollution that could endanger human health and the environment.
- Certain types of HHW have the potential to cause physical injury to sanitation workers, to contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets, and present hazards to children and pets if left around the house.
What is household hazardous waste (HHW)?
- Any solid, liquid, or contained gaseous material that is discarded through the process of recycling, disposal, or burning/incineration.
The Solid Waste Management District of St. Joseph County collects HHW at the Household Hazardous Waste Center located at 828 Kerr St, South Bend, IN. St. Joseph County residents can drop off waste during regular business hours, 8:30 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. Monday - Friday and 8:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. on Saturday. Waste from businesses or institutions will be accepted only through prior arrangement with the District.
Accepted materials can be found HERE and include paints and solvents, tires, rechargeable batteries, poisons, and fuels.
Drop off locations can be found HERE
What can you do to minimize mercury pollution and protect the health of the community and our waterways? The city of South Bend's Environmental Services Department produced an informative brochure about what it is, how it is used in household items, how to clean spills, and how to safely dispose of mercury containing items.
Products that might have mercury:
- mercury fever thermometers
- fluorescent, high intensity light bulbs
- some irons with automatic shut offs
- some pesticides and cleaners
- some old toys or old chemistry sets
How to safety dispose of items that have mercury:
- Do NOT put it down the drain
- Do NOT put it in the trash
- Do NOT burn it
- South Bend residents can recycle household products that contain mercury - free of charge - at the Household Hazardous Waste Center located at 828 Kerr St, South Bend, IN. Their hours of operation are 8:30 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. Monday-Friday and 8:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. on Saturday. Call 574-235-9971 or see www.sjcindiana.com for more information.
Why it Matters
Food access in urban areas relates to issues of health, education, community development, and food security. Using green space in the city for community gardens not only provides food, but also improves property values and safety, creates space for community gatherings, and adds beauty to neighborhoods. To Use City Property for Community Gardens see the Community Garden Program Agreement.
You or your community group may be interested in purchasing or agreeing to use a privately-owned vacant lot for a rain garden, swale, or other green space. The City provides some guidance as part of the 1000 homes in 1000 days initiative. See the Vacant and Abandoned Properties FAQ HERE and the Vacant & Abandoned Properties Initiative Resident Information Booklet HERE
Why it Matters
Connecting all members of the community with employment, health, educational, and other important opportunities and services is key to an urban transit system. The City of South Bend, along with other agencies like Transpo, provides several services to help you get around, while also improving the community and reducing environmental impacts. South Bend features three main modes of transit:
Public transportation provides critical "lifeline" services; fosters multimodal transportation systems and effective multimodal connections; offers more transportation options to improve access to housing, jobs, businesses, services, and social activities; and reduces emissions and traffic congestion. The South Bend Public Transportation Corporation operates Transpo, a public transportation service.
The Transpo Administration, Maintenance, and Operations Facility is certified LEED Platinum, the highest level of achievement. This is the first LEED Platinum transit facility in the country. Learn more about Transpo’s LEED Platinum building HERE.
Route and Fare information can be found HERE
Smart Streets Initiative
“Smart Streets” is an effort to design streets to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Current projects include:
- converting one-way streets into two-way in the downtown area
- streetscape enhancements, drainage solutions, and changes to pavement markings
- market-based strategic revitalization plan
- corridor projects to improve the condition and atmosphere of key roads
The City of South Bend has been recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. South Bend is one of only 303 communities in the United States to be awarded Bicycle Friendly Community status. The South Bend Bikeways plan envisions 110 miles of bikeways throughout the city, connecting residents to area trails and bike routes.
Bicycles improve health, ease congestion, save money, use less space, and provide efficient transportation with zero fuel consumption and zero carbon emissions. A city that depends on bicycles more than other automated forms of transportation will require less energy, emit less carbon, and make less noise.
South Bend Area Bicycle Information & Resources
Bike Michiana Coalition
Bike South Bend
Bike the Bend
Bike to Work Week
Indiana - Michigan River Valley Trail
MACOG (Michiana Area Council Of Governments) Bike and Pedestrian Safety
Pumpkinvine Nature Trail
Smart Streets Initiative
Find Bike Route maps and plans HERE
- Trees absorb stormwater, carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and climate change), as well as odors and pollutant gases such as sulfur dioxide and ozone.
- Trees filter particulates out of the air.
- Trees release oxygen.
- Trees save energy. According to the USDA Forest Service, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.”
- Trees can increase property values by as much as 15 percent.
- Trees reduce violence. "Neighborhoods and homes that are barren have shown to have a greater incidence of violence" than their counterparts.
Planting Trees and Shrubs
A list of trees that can be planted in South Bend, along with descriptions of size, canopy density, urban stress tolerance, and growth rate can be found HERE.
Before you plant in the tree or lawn area:
- Trees should not be planted within 6 feet of a fire hydrant or in such a manner as to obstruct the view of any street light, traffic sign, signal device, or street intersection (Code 1962 38-17,19).
- No tree, lawn area tree, or shrub may be planted closer to any curb or sidewalk than the following: small trees (2 feet), medium trees (3 feet), and large trees (4 feet).
- For a detailed description of the Standards for Planting Trees and Shrubs, in accordance with Indiana Code Section 19-17, go HERE
- Know what you are planting. A visual guide to trees from the Texas A&M Forest Service provides full color profile images and information and can be found HERE.
To assist homeowners in keeping healthy trees, Forestry provides links to many useful sites about tree species, benefits of trees, and caring for trees HERE
To request a permit or list of licensed arborists, please call (574)299-4766.
To learn more about city trees and programs, contact Brent Thompson, City Forester at (574)299-4766 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why it Matters
A sustainable neighborhood is one where, among other factors, residents have regular contact with their immediate neighbors and are involved in neighborhood organizing. These activities foster greater social cohesion in the neighborhood. Sustainable neighborhoods also have fewer vacant and abandoned homes and more green gathering spaces and are able to maintain a unique character while being connected to the rest of the city by transit.
- Plan a Block Party: Use the Block Party Application and Permit to close a street between two intersections for a residential block party.
- Purchase a City-owned Vacant Lot: Request to Purchase City Property