Green Tips

Great Ideas for Waste Reduction

What does reducing waste mean?

go greenWhen you avoid making garbage in the first place, you don't have to worry about disposing of waste or recycling it later. Changing your habits is the key — think about ways you can reduce your waste when you shop, work and play.

There's a ton of ways for you to reduce waste, save yourself some time and money, and be good to the Earth at the same time.

Reducing excess paper at home!

A good portion of what you throw in the garbage each day is paper. Much of the paper generated in our homes comes in the mail. The average American household receives more than 500 pieces of advertising mail each year.

Example: Take action to reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive.

  • If you want to get off most national marketing lists, you can register with the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service.
  • If you just want to stop certain catalogs, you can contact individual mailers and ask them to remove your name from their mailing lists; call them or send your request by mail or e-mail.
  • There's also a toll-free number to stop mailings of credit card offers. One call to 1-888-5-OPT-OUT will reach the major national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Have your Social Security number ready - they will ask you for it to confirm your identity.

Benefits: Recycling junk mail is okay, but reducing the flow of junk mail will conserve natural resources, save landfill space, and save you time and money.

Reducing packaging waste!

Packaging makes up 30% of municipal solid waste. You can reduce the amount of packaging you throw in the garbage by purchasing items that have less packaging.

Examples: Reduce the amount of packaging by purchasing concentrates and diluting them with water in reusable containers. Avoid single-serving products in favor of larger servings or buying bulk. Take your own reusable cloth bag so you don't need "paper or plastic".

Benefits: Over-packaged products often cost more than less-packaged products. This means that you can save money when buying products with less packaging.

Compost your food waste!

According the the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 27 percent of the nation's total food supply - 97 billion pounds - went to waste in 1995. Food is wasted in many ways, such as preparing too much, letting fresh food go bad and buying too much.

Examples: Planning meals and creating a list of what you need before you go to the grocery store will help you buy exactly what you need. Composting leftover fruit and vegetable food waste with your yard waste helps create high-nutrient compost. Donate excess canned goods to a food shelf.

Benefits: Making better use of the food you buy will save you money and reduce how much food you throw away. Composting the remaining food waste will provide you with a great additive for your garden.

Donate your unwanted household items and clothing!

Instead of discarding your unwanted furniture, appliances, tools or clothes, try selling or donating them to groups and organizations that accept used goods. When deciding to purchase an item, consider buying used. Those items are less expensive than new ones and are often just as good.

Example: Donate or resell items to thrift stores or other organizations in need. You could receive a tax deduction or cash for them. Buy and sell secondhand items at fairs, bazaars, swap meets and garage sales. Organize a garage sale in your neighborhood to encourage your neighbors to get involved in reducing waste.

Benefits: You can save money as well as reduce waste by purchasing furniture, appliances and clothes used.

You can find the above information plus other helpful information at http://www.reduce.org