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Solid Waste and Recycling

How Do We Reduce Garbage?

The average person throws away more than four pounds of trash each day. Packaging alone makes up 64 million tons by weight or 33% of all our garbage.The family that reduces waste in the home helps protect the environment. Waste reduction is as important as recycling in saving natural resources, energy, disposal space and costs, and in reducing pollution risks.

A Lovely HouseAt Home

  • Food waste can be composted in a worm bin.
  • Put paper towels out of easy reach so that they will be used only when really needed. Set up a countertop or wall holder for reusable sponges, rags, and cloth towels.
  • Reuse margarine tubs to freeze foods or pack lunches to reduce the need for foil or plastic wrap.
  • Repair/restore used items before replacing them with new ones.Image of a man overwhelmed by his mail
  • Too much junk mail? Contact the Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, 11 W. 42nd St., PO Box 3861, New York, NY 10163-3861. Let them know if your name should be removed from commercial lists, non-profit lists, or both.
  • Cancel subscriptions to magazines or newspapers you don't actually read, especially if you could read them at the local library. Give old issues to friends, coworkers, nursing homes, laundromats or libraries.
  • Don't throw away usable clothing or household items. Hold a yard sale or donate the items to charitable organizations.

BookstoreAt the Store

  • Buy items you can recycle locally through curbside collection or recycling centers.
  • Buy durable (long-lasting, multiple-use) items instead of those that are disposable or cheaply made.
  • Avoid excess packaging when choosing product brands. For frequently used items, buy in bulk. Otherwise, buy just the amount you need. Larger sizes reduce the amount of packaging, but smaller sizes reduce leftover waste.
  • Reduce toxic waste by purchasing paints, pesticides and other hazardous materials only in the quantities needed, or by sharing leftovers.
  • Buy concentrated products to reduce packaging. Examples are concentrated fruit juice and laundry detergent.
  • Carry a canvas or other reusable tote bag when you shop. It eliminates the need to use the store's disposable paper or plastic bags.

School BusAt School

  • Use both sides of a sheet of paper before recycling it.
  • Use scrap paper for art projects.
  • Reuse paper bags, wrapping paper, or newsprint for book covers.
  • Bring a waste-free lunch by packing it in reusable or recyclable containers.
  • Set up a reuse box in the classroom for used pencils, pens, folders and other items that are still usable.


Updated: August 16, 2000

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