Indoor Conservation: Managing Household Waste

Do your part to reduce waste by choosing reusable products instead of disposables. Buying products with minimal packaging (including the economy size when that makes sense for you) will help to reduce waste. And whenever you can, recycle paper, plastic, newspaper, glass and aluminum cans. If there isn't’t a recycling program at your workplace, school, or in your community, ask about starting one. By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Recycling

Learn not only how to recycle, but how to reduce and reuse.

reduce, reuse, recycle logoRecycling is the process of separating, collecting, processing, marketing, and reusing materials that would have otherwise been thrown away. When a product has been recycled and reused as a new product, the usage loop has been closed. For example, glass is 100% recyclable and can be used over and over again without any loss of quality.

What's in our trash?

Waste disposal is a critical issue for all communities, as there is no easy way to get rid of garbage other than by reducing the amount of waste generated. In the United States, each person generates about 4.4 pounds of waste per day. That's enough garbage to fill a convoy of trash trucks halfway to the moon each year!

Sort through your trash! It's the best way to discover where you can reduce waste. Is there anything reusable or repairable? Can you reduce the amount of disposable products you use?

Next time you purchase goods and products look for the three R's.

What are the Three R's?

Reduce - your first line of action for waste management

  • When choosing between similar products, select the one with the least amount of packaging and ask yourself if it can be recycled or reused
  • Avoid the disposable versions of razors, pens, batteries, plates, cups, napkins, etc
  • Reduce junk mail by asking that your name and address be removed from mailing lists by sending a written request to:

    Mail Preference Service
    Direct Marketing Association
    P.O. Box 9008
    Farmingdale, NY 11735

Reuse - give it a second chance!

  • Reuse or bring your own shopping bags
  • Carry food in reusable containers rather than plastic food bags
  • Leave grass clippings and leaves on your lawn or compost them
  • Invest in cloth napkins for daily use and reusable wiping cloths, towels, and plates
  • Donate unwanted furniture, appliances, clothing, and toys--this is the best way to give goods a second life
  • Visit Freecycle a nonprofit movement whose goal is to keep reusable items out of our landfills.

Recycling - close the loop

This term is used to describe the last and most important step in the recycling process. It refers to the point when a consumer buys a recycled product after it has been put into a recycling program and processed into a new item.

  • Choose recyclable containers when purchasing refreshments; avoid foam cups with plastic lids and straws
  • Support recycling markets by buying and using products made from recycled materials
  • When shopping, look for the recyclable sign at the bottom of products

What can be Recycled?

Check with your city or county. Many municipalities collect the following items for recycling:

  • newspaperPaper: newspaper, office paper, cardboard, magazines - Why recycle paper? If everyone in the US recycled just 1/10th of their newsprint, it would save approximately 25 million trees a year!

  • metal canAluminum: beverage containers, canned foods containers - Why recycle aluminum? By recycling one aluminum can, you can save enough energy to run a TV set for 3 hours.

  • bottlePlastics: soda bottles, milk jugs, plastic bags (at grocery stores), detergent containers - Why recycle plastic? Five recycled plastic bottles makes enough fiberfill to stuff a jacket.

  • glass bottleGlass: green, clear, amber - Why recycle glass? Glass never wears out. For every ton of glass that is recycled, a ton of resources (sand, soda ash, limestone, and feldspar) is saved.

  • Other metals: steel cans, automobile bodies, appliances - Why recycle steel? For every ton of steel that is recycled, 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1000 pounds of coal, and 40 pounds of limestone is preserved.

  • leafYard trimmings: grass, leaves, clippings all by composting - Why recycle yard trimmings? Reuse these to mulch your yard!

  • televisionElectronics: Many organizations accept donations of electronics for recycling. Items typically recycled are computer monitors, CPU's (Central Processing Units), televisions with cathode ray tubes and flat panel displays, printers, laptops, cables, keyboards and mice

Composting

wormYou may not have given it much thought, but food scraps and food soiled paper are one of the largest contributors to our household waste stream. Food scraps, such as fruit and vegetable parings, coffee grounds and eggshells, are valuable resource that can be recycling right at home. Instead of taking up space in the landfill, your food scraps can be composted and used to supplement your landscape. Compost helps improve soil fertility and texture as well as soil moisture and nutrient retention. Better yet, its so easy, anyone can succeed at composting.

Composting Resources

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