All the products you buy, or at least their packaging or containers,
will eventually require disposal. Packaging now accounts for 64
million tons by weight or 33% of all our garbage. The average
Pennsylvanian discards about 4 1/2 pounds of trash each day. If
each person reduced waste by only 1 pound each week, the amount
of reduction statewide would total 312,000 tons a year.
The family who reduces waste in the home helps protect the
environment. Waste reduction is as important as recycling in saving
natural resources, energy, and disposal space and costs, and in
reducing pollution risks. Careful buying and disposal habits can
also stretch the family budget.
WHAT IS WASTE REDUCTION?
Waste reduction refers to:
Reducing the amount of waste produced. An example is using
china and silverware instead of using disposable paper plates
and plastic flatware.
Reducing toxic substances in waste. An example is using a
nontoxic oven cleaner instead of one that contains hazardous
STARTING A REDUCING PROGRAM
The best way to discover where you can reduce waste is to actually
sort through your trash. what does each family member throw away?
What materials take up the most space? Is anything reusable or
repairable? Can you reduce the amount of disposable products you
use? Can you substitute products and packaging made of reusable,
recyclable, or nonhazardous materials? If you are throwing away
unusable leftover products, can you give them to someone else,
or buy these things in smaller sizes?
WATCH WHAT YOU BUY
Waste reduction starts at the shopping center. When you go
shopping follow these guidelines:
Buy durable products instead of those that
are disposable or cheaply made.
Repair/restore used items before replacing
Buy items you can re-use. Re-using margarine
tubs to freeze foods or pack lunches, for instance, reduces the
need for foil or plastic wrap.
Buy items you can recycle locally through curbside
collection or recycling centers.
Avoid excess packaging when choosing product
brands. Buy products in bulk. Buy just the amount you need: larger
sizes reduce the amount of packaging, but smaller sizes reduce
MORE WASTE REDUCTION TIPS
Buy only what you need. Avoid impulse buying. Not only will
you end up with something you can`t use and have to throw away,
but it will also be very expensive. One way to avoid this is to
make a shopping list of what you need, then stick to that list.
Put paper towels out of easy reach so they will be used only
when needed. Set up a countertop or wall holder for sponges,
rags and cloth towels.
Buy beverages in returnable or recyclable containers. Most
beverages are packaged in recyclable materials, which include
glass, plastic milk and water jugs (HPDE), plastic soda bottles
(PET), and aluminum.
Buy concentrated products to reduce packaging. Examples are
concentrated fruit juice, laundry detergent, fabric softener
and window cleaner.
Avoid buying packaged foods with disposable, nonreheatable
microwave dishes. If you must buy them, the dishes can be re-used
as picnic plates, plant saucers or pet dishes.
If your favorite brands have excessive packaging or are not
as durable as they should be, contact the manufacturers and express
your concern about reducing waste and conserving natural resources.
Carry a canvas or net tote bag when you shop. It's not only
a safe, convenient way to carry purchases, it eliminates the
need for the merchants' disposable paper or plastic bags.
If you receive mail from a marketer who does not subscribe
to the Mail Preference Service, write directly to the company
to remove your name. Enclose an address label from previously
sent mail; the coding on the label will help the company locate
your name on their list.
Letters and other correspondence that are printed on one
side only can be cut along the folds and re-used to make shopping
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, co-workers, nursing homes,
laundromats or libraries.
Buy products that are durable, well-made and repairable.
Check warranties, repair services and availability of parts and
accessories. Read consumer magazines (your library probably carries
copies) to learn which products are more durable and have longer
Use carpools or public transit to extend the wear of cars
and tires and reduce car maintenance wastes such as used oil.
Reduce toxic waste by purchasing paints, pesticides and other
hazardous materials only in the quantities needed, or by sharing
Use plug-in appliances instead of those that operate on batteries.
Disposable batteries are discarded after one use. Rechargeable
batteries are the largest source of cadmium in the municipal
Americans throw away about 2.5 billion disposable razors
every year. Use an electric shaver or a quality razor with replaceable
Bar soap generates less packaging waste and is less expensive
than liquid soap in plastic bottles with pump dispensers.
Take proper care of shoes and clothing and repair them to
Don't discard usable clothing or household items. Hold a
yard sale or donate the items to charitable organizations. Worn
clothing and other textiles can be used as rags or for craft
List all the things you can recycle through your city's curbside
program or your local recycling center. Then list the things
in your trash that are nonrecyclable. Next time you go shopping,
look for recyclable substitutes.