The Anderson family of four has whittled down their weekly trash output to one partly filled garbage bag.

Nearly everything gets recycled, reused or composted in their Andover household.

Might sound a bit zealous at first, but it's easier to do than you might think, says Sue Doll, the wife and mother of the Anderson family.

Expansion of single-sort curbside recycling programs, robust recycling centers in many Anoka County communities that accept odd bits, and some know-how make it possible for the busy suburban family to reduce their environmental footprint without breaking a sweat.

Doll will now lead Anoka County's first-ever Master Recycler/Composter class to help answer questions and maximize recycling. The five-session evening class is designed to create a volunteer pool of knowledgeable residents to reduce waste at home, at work and in the community.

In Anoka County, about 43 percent of total waste generated is recycled.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has set a goal for Anoka County to increase its recycling to the 45 to 48 percent range by the end of 2015.

"It's a core value for me. You don't have anything if you don't have the environment," Doll said. "I grew up with a no-waste ethic. I have Depression-era parents. We would scrape out the toothpaste tube."

Doll, an Anoka County solid waste specialist for 25 years, has toured recycling processing facilities and will explain the best way to maximize recycling efforts. She knows what makes it through the line and what falls through the cracks.

Doll said the class will appeal to fellow recycling "zealots."

"It's really about pulling out people who want to do more," she said. "We want to make them knowledgeable about how to recycle and why and help empower them to do more in the county."

Doll, the mother of two teenagers, recycles most of her household rubbish curbside, but she does stop at local recycling centers once a month with some more specialty items, including Styrofoam egg cartons, scrap metal, plastic shopping bags and heavy-coated boxboard that sometimes cannot be recycled by curbside haulers.

She also has some clever ideas for items that are beyond recycling, including paper egg cartons and fast-food drink trays already made from recycled paper. The paper most likely cannot be recycled again but they make great, free fire starters, said Doll.

A big part of her zero-waste effort is making it easy for her family. She places a recycling bin right next to the garbage bin in the kitchen.

"It's a habit," she explained as she demonstrated her sorting process in her garage.

Even so, she is constantly nudging her family to do the right thing. She pulls an empty, unwashed plastic smoothie cup out of the recycling bin with the straw still in it. That's not right. Items should be rinsed and the straw removed.

The suspected culprit: her husband. Doll focuses on residential recycling, but she said her trained volunteers can bring good habits and techniques to their workplaces.

Over the years, Doll has designed recycling programs for schools, stadiums and special events where thousands of people walk through the doors in a matter of hours.

"There can be 3,000 people at a tournament. That's bigger than some of our small cities," Doll said.

There are still a few things that have to be thrown away in the Doll household, hence the one bag of garbage. You can't recycle kitty litter. Facial tissues and greasy takeout food boxes have to be thrown.

Shannon Prather • 612-673-4804