Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Compost
The Bottle Bill removed many cans and
bottles from the waste stream. Remember
to recycle your water bottle or BYOB
We all use tons and tons of "stuff" in our lifetimes-like the 25 billion Styrofoam cups Americans use and dispose of each year. These items are filling up our landfills and our landscapes. Some-such as plastic six-pack rings-are even responsible for killing wildlife. Instead of buying more "stuff" and throwing it away, try the three "R"s and a "C."
- Get your money back-return empty beverage cans and bottles
Don't lose the nickel deposit you paid when buying a soda, beer, mineral water, or wine cooler with a New York refund label. If you don't redeem it, the money is kept by beverage distributors.
- Compost food scraps and yard waste
It's all about recycling the nutrients and returning them to the soil to be used again. Learn more about composting.
- Hang a blackboard
Use it for phone messages and reminders, instead of leaving paper notes.
- Stop junk mail
Contact solicitors and advertisers to get off mail lists.
- Don't toss it -wash it
Use cloth napkins, washable plates, cups and silverware. Serve condiments from recyclable or reusable containers.
In the Store
- Shop at local produce stands, farmer's markets and co-ops. They sell fresh produce and other products with much less packaging than in stores. Don't forget to bring your own shopping bags.
- Select products with less or no packaging
Not only are you paying extra for the packaging itself, you're paying to transport it and later to dispose of it! For example, buy concentrated cleaners and detergents; the container is smaller.
- Close the loop
Read labels and try to purchase products with a high post-consumer recycled content. This is easy to find in stationery and office paper but you can also find clothes and shopping bags made from plastic soda bottles, garden hoses made from tires, purses from inner tubes and much more.
Bring Your Own (shopping) Bags. Cloth or mesh are best! And skip the small plastic bags offered in the produce section of supermarkets, or reuse those you already have.
- Go to the library instead of the bookstore
Libraries are the masters of reuse. In addition to books, you can access the Internet, do research, borrow CDs, DVDs and videos, and read newspapers and magazines-all for free! Donate your own used books to libraries, hospitals and schools.
- Shop garage sales, penny-saver circulars, and thrift stores
And find homes for your unwanted items the same way. You'll save money and the environment at the same time.
- Reuse paper
Scrap paper and backs of envelopes are perfect for shopping lists and phone messages .
Skip the bottled water
Single-use bottled water is the fastest growing beverage in the United States, yet only 10% of these bottles are recycled (see "Too Many Bottles" at right). Get a durable, safe, re-usable water container and fill it with tap water. Be sure to recycle all plastic water bottles if you do buy them.
In the Office
- Make friends with your computer
Send e-mails and electronic copies instead of paper. Keep electronic files on computers instead of keeping papers in file cabinets. Review documents onscreen rather than printing them out.
- Reuse office supplies
Mailing tubes and envelopes can be used more than once. Use scrap paper for phone messages. Reuse boxes and use shredded waste paper as packing material.
- Print and copy thoughtfully
Make double-sided printouts and copies. Circulate, rather than copy, notices and memos. Buy printer paper with a high percentage of post-consumer content.
- Ditch the disposables
Bring lunch to school or work in reusable containers. Keep reusable plates, cups, utensils, and napkins at your desk.
In the Car
- Get a travel mug
Refill your mug instead of buying coffee in Styrofoam or paper cups.
- Return old tires for recycling
Don't pay to throw them out. Return them to where you purchased them or take them to a tire recycler.
- Keep tires balanced and rotated regularly
Have it done every 6,000-8,000 miles (or as recommended by your tire manufacturer) to save hundreds of miles in wear.
- Recycle your old battery
It's illegal to throw it in the trash. At the time you purchase a new one, take your dead battery to a retail store, distributor, or battery recycling facility. By law, retailers must accept used batteries from customers.