Reducing Waste at Home
Waste reduction conserves the earth's natural resources, reduces landfill waste, and reduces potential pollution risks. Careful buying and disposal choices can also save families money. What can you do to help?
The 3 R's - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Reduce the amount of waste produced:
- Avoid use of disposable paper products and plastic flatware.
- Avoid excess packaging when choosing products (i.e., purchase concentrated products and bulk sizes, and avoid single serve portions).
- Only purchase what you need of a product (e.g., food, paint, cleaning solutions) to avoid waste and leftovers.
- Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by contacting the Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Services. Find out more at www.dmaconsumers.org.
- Reduce credit card offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT.
- Cancel subscriptions to magazines and newspapers you don't read, or read them online instead.
- Contact mail order companies to stop catalogs from being sent to your home.
- Buy durable, well-made products instead of ones that are cheaply made.
- Use tote bags when shopping to avoid bringing home shopping bags.
- Compost organics (i.e., fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, leaves) instead of throwing them out with the trash.
Reuse items whenever possible:
Recycle whenever possible:
- Know what your town recycles.
- Make a conscious effort to purchase products in recyclable or reusable packaging. Keep in mind that recycling metal, clear glass and paper are particularly cost-effective processes.
- Find new owners or uses for old clothing, furniture or appliances. Sell, trade or donate your items. Post items on sites such as www.freecycle.org or www.craigslist.com. See the Tri-State Area Resources for a list of local thrift shops and consignment stores.
- Bring plastic shopping bags to your local grocery store for recycling.
- Recycle used motor oil at your local hazardous waste collection program or at a participating commercial gas station. Go to www.njhazwaste.com or www.earth911.org or see Tri-State Area Resources to find a location.
- Recycle old computer equipment, cell phones, televisions, batteries, etc. at an electronics recycling center near you. Go to www.njhazwaste.com or www.earth911.org to find a location.
- Recycle used ink-jet cartridges through a local program (many schools have them) or through the manufacturer. Some Office Depot stores will accept used cartridges.
- Take "packing peanuts" to a local UPS or other package mailing store, or give them to someone with a mail order business.
- Go to www.melbpc.org.au/pcupdate/2105/2105article4.htm for ideas for recycling used CDs.
- Help companies to recycle by buying items that are made from or packaged in recycled materials.
- Shop at thrift stores, consignment stores and garage sales.
- For additional ideas on how to recycle:
- More from the Environmental Protection Agency:
- Recycling centers and services:
- www.earth911.org - Put in your zip code and get information on recycling centers in your area.
- www.dmaconsumers.org - Remove your name from telephone, mail and e-mail marketing lists.
- www.recycleforbreastcancer.org - A free recycling program for a wide variety of electronics equipment (computers, cameras, etc.), printer components, and electronics media. They provide free prepaid shipping labels, envelopes, and collection boxes or send a truck for the items.
- www.wirelessrecycling.com, www.collectivegood.com and www.charitablerecycling.com - Collect used cell phone donations in support of charitable causes.
- Places where you can drop off cell phones to benefit charities are the BodyShop (victims of domestic violence) and phone company stores: AT&T (Keep America Beautiful), Nextel (Red Cross), Sprint (people with disabilities) and Verizon (victims of domestic abuse).
- Many non-profit organizatons will accept donations of cars, particularly those in running condition, and give you a tax receipt. You can contact your favorite charity to see if they have a car donation program, or go to www.donateacar.com to find the name of a charity near you.
- The AAA has a yearly program to replace mercury switches in cars manufactured prior to 2001 (domestic) or 2002 (imports). Go to www.aaawin.com/news_safety/community/mercury_switchout1005.asp to find a AAA service center near you that will do this work for free during the month of October.
- www.nikereuseashoe.com - Find drop-off locations for your used non-metal-containing athletic shoes.
- www.fairygodmothersinc.com - Contains a list of organizations that accept donations of formalwear to allow girls who qualify financially to attend their proms.
- www.lionsclubs.org/EN/content/vision_eyeglass_sight.shtml - Donate old eyeglasses at a Lions Club eyeglass recycling center.
- Charitable organizations are often in need of clothing, toiletries, furniture and household items. Depending on the organization, you can either drop off items, arrange for a pickup, or use a local donation bin. Here are a few options: