Monday, March 06, 2006

Low Impact Living - Part III

State of The Union Address -- January 31, 2006 (excerpt)“Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. (Applause.)

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. (Applause.)” - President George W. Bush

I think that, along with the previous installments of this series, sufficiently caps off energy waste and reduction, lets move on to the next and final topic in this series...

Waste Prevention
When 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. Everyone in the U.S throws away enough aluminum every three months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet. Think about that for a minute. That’s incredible and ridiculous. There’s no need and no excuse for it. With a small amount of fore thought and planning you can spend an extra thirty seconds out of your day to ensure recyclable materials don’t continue finding their way into our landfills.

During the past 35 years, the amount of waste each person creates has almost doubled from 2.7 to 4.4 pounds per day. The most effective way to stop this trend is by preventing waste in the first place.
Waste prevention, also known as "source reduction," is the practice of designing, manufacturing, purchasing, or using materials (such as products and packaging) in ways that reduce the amount or toxicity of trash created. Reusing items is another way to stop waste at the source because it delays or avoids that item's entry in the waste collection and disposal system.

In 1998, Americans generated 220 million tons of garbage. This is about 4 million tons more than what was generated in 1997 and about 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day. Managing this large waste stream burdens our environment and our economy. While recycling the materials in the waste stream is a better option than disposal, preventing the waste in the first place is the best option.

Reducing your household waste by 5% and recycling the rest is equivalent to taking 230 cars off the road in one year. In addition to recycling at home and at work, individuals and businesses must also “close the loop” by purchasing products made from recycled materials, to create consumer demand and markets for recyclables.
Source reduction, including reuse, can help reduce waste disposal and handling costs, because it avoids the costs of recycling, municipal composting, landfilling, and combustion. Source reduction also conserves resources and reduces pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Waste prevention methods help create less waste in the first place, before recycling. If organizations take a good look at their recycling collection data, they are likely to see ways to reduce waste first through waste prevention, thereby decreasing purchasing costs and the amount of material that must be managed for recycling. For more information, visit these waste prevention publications and related links.

Waste minimization strategiesCommunities - The U.S. EPA estimates that over 4,000 communities have "pay-as-you-throw" programs. Residents pay for each bin or bag of trash they set out for disposal rather than a flat fee. When households reduce the amount of trash, they pay less.
Businesses - Practicing source reduction helps industries decrease raw material use and cut manufacturing costs. Offices can shrink their waste stream, too. Get waste reduction strategies for large and small businesses.
Consumers - Buying in bulk, reusing products, buying products with less packaging and refillable products all help to reduce consumer costs and the amount of waste going to disposal. Get a laundry list of tips from the National Recycling Coalition.

Reuse strategiesReusing products or packaging delays or avoids their entry into the waste stream. How can you practice reuse? Donate, repair, refill, reuse, rent, rebuild, or resell. Think of new uses for used items.
If you can't reuse a product, there are usually others in the community that can. According to the Reuse Development Organization, there are more than 6,000 reuse centers in the U.S. Find one near you.

Many communities have also established resource exchange programs. Unwanted items from a business or other generator are matched with those that are seeking these materials to reuse or recycle into a new product. Schools are often the beneficiaries of these cast offs. Get a list of waste exchanges by state.
Reuse of products and packaging prolongs the useful life of these materials, thus delaying final disposal or recycling. Reuse is the repair, refurbishing, washing, or just simple recovery of worn or used products, appliances, furniture, and building materials for reuse. Sample goals in this area include:
· Reusing corrugated moving boxes.
· Reusing office furniture and supplies, such as interoffice envelopes and file folders.
· Using durable towels, tablecloths, napkins, dishes, cups, and glasses.
· Using incoming packaging materials for outgoing shipments.

National Recycling Coalition source reduction strategies
1. Reduce product use.
2. Rent or lease products or equipment.
3. Purchase rebuilt, remanufactured or refurbished products.
4. Purchase more durable products.
5. Purchase products containing non-hazardous materials.
6. Purchase products that are reusable, refillable, or returnable.
7. Purchase products in bulk.
8. Purchase products with less packaging or reuse packaging.
9. Share or reuse resources.

Businesses can often modify their current practices to reduce the amounts of waste generated by changing the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials or products. Sample goals in this area include:
· Reducing office paper waste by implementing a formal policy to duplex all draft reports, and by making training manuals and personnel information available electronically.
· Improving product design to use less materials.
· Redesigning packaging to eliminate excess material while maintaining strength.
· Working with customers to design and implement a packaging return program.
· Switching to reusable transport containers.
· Purchasing products in bulk.
Organizations can donate products or materials to charities or nonprofits, or exchange materials through a commercial materials exchange. Sample goals in this area include:
· Donating unwanted supplies to local schools or nonprofit organizations.
· Donating cafeteria food scraps for use as animal feed.
· Advertising surplus and reusable items through a commercial materials exchange.
· Donating excess building materials to local low-income housing developers.
Source Reduction and Reuse Facts
· More than 55 million tons of MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) were source reduced in the United States in 2000, the latest year for which these figures are available.
· Containers and packaging represented approximately 28 percent of the materials source reduced in 2000, in addition to non-durable goods (e.g., newspapers, clothing) at 17 percent, durable goods (e.g., appliances, furniture, tires) at 10 percent, and other MSW (e.g., yard trimmings, food scraps) at 45 percent.
· There are more than 6,000 reuse centers around the country, ranging from specialized programs for building materials or unneeded materials in schools to local programs such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, according to the Reuse Development Organization.
· Between 2 and 5 percent of the waste stream is potentially reusable according to studies in Berkeley, California, and Leverett, Massachusetts.
· Since 1977, the weight of 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles has been reduced from 68 grams each to 51 grams. That means that 250 million pounds of plastic per year has been kept out of the waste stream.
Source Reduction and Reuse Benefits
· Waste prevention and recycling saves energy. Making products from recycled material typically requires less energy than products made from virgin material. Less energy means fewer fossil fuels are burned and less carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) is emitted.
· Keeping wastes out of the incinerator and landfill reduce emissions from those sources.
· Waste prevention and recycling of paper products leaves more trees standing in the forests. Forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in wood.
· Saves natural resources. Waste is not just created when consumers throw items away. Throughout the life cycle of a product, from extraction of raw materials to transportation to processing and manufacturing facilities to manufacture and use, waste is generated. Reusing items or making them with less material decreases waste dramatically. Ultimately, less materials will need to be recycled or sent to landfills or waste combustion facilities.
· Reduces toxicity of waste. Selecting non-hazardous or less hazardous items is another important component of source reduction. Using less hazardous alternatives for certain items (e.g., cleaning products and pesticides), sharing products that contain hazardous chemicals instead of throwing out leftovers, reading label directions carefully, and using the smallest amount necessary are ways to reduce waste toxicity.
· Reduces costs. The benefits of preventing waste go beyond reducing reliance on other forms of waste disposal. Preventing waste also can mean economic savings for communities, businesses, schools, and individual consumers.
Climate Change and WasteRising levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are causing changes in our climate. The manufacture, distribution, and use of products, as well as management of the resulting waste, all result in greenhouse gas emissions. Waste prevention and recycling can help mitigate climate change.

Related Links
Waste Prevention Programs
· Pay-As-You-Throw
· National Recycling Coalition
· WasteWise
· Climate Change and Waste
· Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
· Great Lakes Pollution Prevention
· Hospital Waste Prevention & Mercury Reduction Efforts
· Native Landscaping
· Pay-As-You-Throw systems
· Product Stewardship
· Reuse


· EPA has developed a list of publications related to source reduction and reuse.
· INFORM 120 Wall Street New York, NY 1005-4001 Phone: 212 361-2400Fax: 212 361-2412
· Environmental Defense 257 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10010 Phone: 212 505-2100 Fax: 212 505-2375
· Reuse Development Organization Indianapolis, IN 46244 Phone: 317 631-5395 Fax: 317 631-5396
· Use Less Stuff

With the current pace of technological advancement, electronic equipment becomes outdated quickly. Electronics can be reused, upgraded, and remanufactured. Extending the life of electronic products can also reduce disposal costs and provide potential tax write-offs.

Some examples of electronic product waste reduction activities include:
· Donating reusable electronic equipment (e.g., to schools or other nonprofit organizations).
· Buying remanufactured equipment instead of new equipment.
· Contracting with suppliers to lease electronics.
· Recycling equipment that cannot be reused.

Electronic product manufacturers might also consider other options, such as:
Redesigning an electronic product so that it can be more easily upgraded or remanufactured.
Establishing a take-back program for electronic products from customers, and remanufacture or upgrade these products for resale.

Waste Reduction In The Home
Households are creating and throwing away more waste than ever. From junk mail to excess paint to food scraps, this garbage takes time and money to deal with. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to reduce your waste at home. Besides, nobody likes taking out the trash...

Why Waste Reduction Is Important
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 person 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.

Waste reduction refers to:
1. Reducing the amount of waste produced. An example is using china and silverware instead of using disposable paper plates and plastic flatware.
2. Reducing toxic substances in waste. An example is using a nontoxic oven cleaner instead of one that contains hazardous ingredients.

Getting Starting
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 non-hazardous materials? If you are throwing away unusable leftover products, can you give them to someone else, or buy these things in smaller sizes?

Reduce 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. We’ll look at in depth strategies on this topic in a separate section.

Reduce packaging waste
Packaging makes up 30 percent of total municipal solid waste and 33 percent of household daily 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 in 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.

Eliminate Mercury From Your Home
Mercury evaporates easily and travels great distances through the atmosphere. It is a nerve toxin which ends up in our lakes and rivers, where it accumulates in fish and other creatures. Humans may be at risk if they regularly eat mercury-contaminated fish. Mercury is especially dangerous when ingested by children, pregnant women, and women planning to have children in the future.

The best way to keep mercury out of the home and the environment is to avoid mercury-containing products in the first place. If you have such products, when it comes time to throw them away, be responsible: Make sure they are taken to a household hazardous waste facility for recycling.

Example: Mercury is found in many common household items such as fever and cooking thermometers, tilt switches in many thermostats, steam irons with 15-minute automatic shut-off, neon lamps, older batteries, fluorescent lamps, switches that stop washing machines when the top is open, "silent" wall switches, mercury vapor, high pressure sodium and metal halide lamps.
When buying these types of products, look for non-mercury alternatives, like digital fever thermometers and alcohol-based cooking thermometers. Replacing your home thermostat? Consider a digital or electronic one that contains no mercury.

Benefits: It is against the law to throw mercury-containing products away in the garbage. Proper management of mercury-containing products means keeping the mercury intact and bringing it to your local household hazardous waste site. Efforts like these to remove mercury from our garbage has meant lower mercury emission levels from waste disposal.

Find out more· Health Care Without Harm has many resources on preventing mercury pollution in the home, including Mercury Thermometers and Your Family's Health (280Kb), explaining risks of mercury thermometers and safer alternatives.

Prevent Food Waste And Compost Organics
According to 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.

Use The Least Hazardous Cleaning Products
Reading labels gives you information on how to use a cleaning product correctly and how dangerous a product might be. You could also consider using a substitute for cleaning projects around the house. More on this topic later.

Buy The Right Amount Of Paint For The Job
In 1998, almost 4 million pounds of excess paint were collected at Minnesota's household hazardous waste sites. A large volume of this paint was still usable. If stored correctly, paint stays in good condition for a long time. If it mixes smoothly, it can still be used. More on this topic later.

Reduce The Need For Pesticides In Your Home
If you're looking for a way to decrease your use of chemicals in your home, take a look at how you handle unwanted pests. The best method to control pests inside the home is to clean up crumbs and spills quickly. Instead of reaching for a can of toxic spray, grab a broom! More on this topic later.
Find New Life For Old Furnishings, Appliances And Clothes
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.
Find out more. Read How to recycle your gently used cast-offs for more ideas for cleaning out the clutter from your life.

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 laundry detergent, fabric softener and window cleaner.
· Avoid buying packaged foods with disposable, non-reheatable 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.
· Too much junk mail? Contact the Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association.
· 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 lists.
· 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 warranties.
· 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 leftovers.
· 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 waste stream.
· Americans throw away about 2.5 billion disposable razors every year. Use an electric shaver or a quality razor with replaceable blades.
· 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 extend use.
· 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 projects.
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 non-recyclable. Next time you go shopping, look for recyclable substitutes.

Reduce The Hail of Unwanted Mail
For many, direct mail catalogs, flyers, credit card offers, and advertising mail is an interesting addition to the mail pile. But many consider much of it "junk mail, unwanted and unwelcome.
If you are interested in "slowing the flow" of unwanted mail, here are some simple steps to greatly reduce the pile.

Advertising mail by the numbers
Is unwanted mail a problem in the United States?
Let's do the math.
Shipped: 5.56 million tons
Recycled: 1.23 million tons (22%)
Garbage: 4.33 million tons
Nearly 32 pounds of paper and plastic are going into the garbage for every woman, man and child in America?! That's a pretty sizeable "junked mail" problem!

Mail Preference Service
Households can significantly reduce their advertising mail by registering with the Direct Marketing Association's free Mail Preference Service. It's easy to do, and you'll be reaching some of the biggest direct marketers in the country with a single letter.
· Download, print and mail this form. MPS form (PDF - 120Kb)
· Or, send a postcard with your name and address to: Mail Preference Service PO Box 643 Carmel NY 10512-0643 Last confirmed April 2003
The DMA also has services for unwanted phone and email solicitations.Learn more about them on their Web site:

About the Mail Preference Service
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is a trade association of businesses who advertise their products and services directly to consumers by mail, telephone, magazine, Internet, radio, or television.
DMA doesn't do mailings, but its members do.

Q: What does their Mail Preference Service (MPS) do?A: The Direct Marketing Association will add your name and address to a "delete" file.
Direct Marketing Association members agree not to use your name in marketing products and services, or trade or sell your name to other marketers.
This registration can be renewed every five years.
Q: I like getting certain catalogs. Will I still be able to get them?A: Yes. Mailers want to keep their customers. Ask your preferred mailers to include you on a list for "in-house" use only, a list not sold or shared with others.
Q: Will the Mail Preference Service stop all advertising mail?A: No. The MPS is a national service, but not all mailers use it. You may continue to receive mail from local merchants, associations, charities, political candidates, and generic "occupant/resident" mail.
Q: Can I register my business with the Mail Preference Service?A: No. MPS is for household mail only. Businesses must contact mailers directly to be removed from mail lists.
Learn more: Call the DMA at 212-768-7277 or go to

Credit offers
Pre-approved credit card offers piling up? The nation's major consumer credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans Union, established a toll-free number to get off lists for pre-approved credit card solicitations. The recording will ask for your social security number, full name, address and telephone number.1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) The service allows you to opt out for two years or permanently. No matter what you pick, you can "opt back in" at any time by calling this same number. A leaning tower of visa, nearly 3 billion credit card solicitations are sent to consumers every year! Disposal tip; make sure to rip up the application form before you discard it. This helps prevent "identity theft" and protects your credit and your privacy.

Contact individual mailers
Not all companies use these national systems to purge their mailing lists. If you are still getting "junk" from persistent mailers, you can contact the company directly and ask to be placed in their "do-not-mail file." Look at the mail piece to see if there's a number to call, or write them a note, send them an E-mail, or use their Web site. Here are a few thoughts on what to say and do.
Sample language: "Please remove my name from your marketing database. In addition, please do not pass along my name to others through mail list sales or trades. Thank-you for your cooperation."
· Be polite. Most mailers will make an effort to comply with your request, they get to improve their database and ultimately reduce their costs. Even if you are frustrated, you're probably just taking it out on a phone operator or staff person. If you don't get results, you can consider stronger language, or contacting company management.
· Be prepared. Have the mailing label or catalog handy. Give them the exact match for your name and address. They might appreciate customer ID numbers or other internal identifiers.
· Be patient. It may take some time to get your name and address out of their mailing cycle.
· Be persistent. Keep trying. Drive home the message that your privacy is an important part of customer service. You do have the right to be left alone.
Mail list brokers
These firms provide national lists for non-financial data.
· Experian 1-800-228-4571 x4633: Wait through a long message about other options before leaving your name, address and phone number for opting out of Experian's compiled databases.
· Polk Company 1-800-464-7655: Ask for the "Polk Opt-out Line"
National mailers
These national advertisers compile and maintain large databases of customers nationwide, often for mailing coupons or local, weekly circulars. These materials are generally printed well in advance of mailing, so expect a delay of 6-8 weeks for this opt-out to take effect.
· Mailbox Values, ShopWi$e (ADVO, Inc.)
· Phone: 952-929-1441 Minnesotans can use an automated phone system (option 3) to leave their full mailing address (don't forget the apartment number), city and zip code.
· Mail: Include your mailing label or coupon envelope, marked "Delete".ADVO, Inc., One Univac Lane, Windsor, CT 06095
· Val-Pak (Cox Target Media)
· E-mail: Send an e-mail to mailto:"" with REMOVE FROM MAILING in the subject line. Include your address, city, state, and zip/postal code exactly as it appears on the Val-Pak blue envelope or mailing label.
· Phone: 1-800-661-0959 At the prompt, enter your zip code to connect to the Minnesota sales office. Press "0" to leave a voicemail asking to remove your name from their mailing list; include your full address (don't forget your apartment number), city and zip code.
· Mail: Include your mailing label or coupon envelope, marked "Delete".Address Information, Val-Pak Direct Marketing Systems, 8605 Largo Lakes Drive, Largo, FL 33773
Local services and utilities
Ask your local utilities and service providers, phone, gas, electric, water, cable, newspaper, banking and insurance, about their privacy policies. Find out more about what information they will and will not share about you. Most companies will restrict what they share about their customers, but typically they will only do so if specifically told to.

Reduce Trash When you Shop
You probably don't go to the store saying, "I think I'll buy some garbage today." But depending on which products you choose, that is at least partly what you're doing. By purchasing stuff that's over-packaged, disposable or of poor quality, your cash can soon end up as trash.

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 them.
· 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 leftover waste.

Purchase products that are returnable, reusable or refillable
Purchase reusable and refillable containers to use in your home instead of disposable items. Think about ways to reuse items in your home. Look for ways to reduce the amount of trash you throw in the garbage by making good purchasing decisions and looking for ways to reduce.

Example: Avoid buying single-use items like paper or plastic plates, cups and disposable silverware. You will spend more money buying these types of items and throwing them away than you would if you used reusable tableware.
Benefits: Reusable items eliminate or reduce the number of disposable items thrown away and the costs of disposing of them.

Grocery shoppers use nearly 40 billion bags each year. Most are only used once and recycled or thrown away.

"Paper NOR plastic"Waste reduction is in the bag
Looking for an easy way to change the way you shop? Reduce the waste you create when you bring home your purchases.
· First things first, do you even need a bag? Tell the clerk that you'll carry out your handful of items, why bag that magazine or pack of gum?! Toss them into your backpack or purse.
· A sturdy cloth bag is a nice investment. You can throw it over your shoulder for hands-free carrying, and it won't rip if you catch it on the doorknob or the car door. Cram it full of groceries!
· If you have to use paper or plastic, pick one that you'll use again. Many grocery stores offer a 5- or 10-cent rebate when you "bring back the sack"; it's good for the environment and your pocketbook!
Purchase products with the least amount of packaging
Why shop 'til you drop? Buy only what you need and buy products in bulk containers and concentrates with less packaging. Shop in the bulk aisle at the grocery store for things that you seem to be buying often and have long shelf-lives such as detergents, dog food, pasta, cereal, cleaners and paper products. Buying in bulk will decrease waste and the total cost. Be alert, some "bulk packages" are just individually wrapped items that are packaged yet again and sold as a bulk item. You will be getting a lot more packaging than you were counting on.

Example: Next time you go to the store, make a list of what you need. Then look for opportunities to buy in bulk or buy products that have less packaging. Look at a product and think about how much of what you are paying for will end up in the trash.
Benefits: Not only are you saving money, but you won't have to go to the store as often. When you shop smart by buying things in bulk or in concentrate you can reduce the amount of packaging headed to the trash.

Why buy if you can get it for free?!
Freecycle is a service for those who want to get or give free reusable goods for the home, garage and garden. It is part of an effort to reduce the amount of reusable goods being thrown away.
The free service allows users to search for available goods or post an item as "wanted." If you make a match, you'll have to make your own arrangements to pick the free items up. Freecycle doesn't store or transport any items.

Waste Reduction Tip: Extend the life of your rechargeable devices
Rechargeable appliances are very convenient, and they seem to be popping up everywhere. The battery pack is an expensive and important piece of a rechargeable device. Follow these tips to maximize the useful life of your rechargeable batteries.

Things you should do:· Read and follow the charging instructions provided with your product. Each charger utilizes a specific strategy to charge the battery.
· Charge your new battery overnight (14–16 hours) before using it. This is called "initializing" and will enable you to obtain maximum battery capacity.
· Let a discharged battery cool to room temperature before recharging. A warm battery will signal a thermal cut-off switch to stop the charging process prematurely, and the battery will not get a full charge.
Things not to do:
· Don't recharge batteries when they are close to fully charged already. A discharged battery can be detected by a sharp drop in speed or power, or by a reduction in the number of power indicators.
· Don't return a fully charged battery to the charger for an "extra boost." This can overcharge the cells and significantly shorten their life-span.
· Don't use the charger as a stand. Only use the charger if your rechargeable appliance, phone, power tool or electric razor needs to be fully recharged. Continuous charging will shorten battery life.
When your rechargeable nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries no longer hold a charge, you should collect them for recycling. Do not put them in with your trash. The EPA-certified symbol tells you that the battery can be recycled, and can be taken to a free drop-off center.

No-Waste Holiday
Time to share with family and friends often becomes lots of time shopping, parties and gatherings, food preparation, and stress. Are you feeling "holidazed"? Do you find yourself wondering how the season passes by so quickly? This year, instead of the hustle and bustle of the mall, maybe it's time for a new tradition, a no-waste holiday season.

On an average day, a typical American creates roughly six pounds of waste. But from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons, it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to the nation's garbage piles.

And it's not just trash. The average American spends $800 on gifts over the holiday season. Think about your time and energy spent driving all around town looking at so much stuff. It's no wonder that so many people get stressed out during the holidays! A recent poll showed that people want to have more personal fulfillment and a less-stressful holiday season. Sometimes the most treasured gifts we can give are our time, love and energy.

In the spirit of giving, here are some holiday gift ideas that create less waste and more memories.

Volunteer and Donate
Giving your time and/or money to worthy causes not only helps your community but gives you a sense of contribution and involvement that is hard to quantify.

Start a new tradition; pick one night a month that your family will donate time at a local shelter handing out food. It is important for children to help others. Studies show that people who help others are healthier and happier.

Children who volunteer enhance their self-esteem as they learn new skills and make new friends. They see themselves as kind people capable of making a difference, and they learn to live a more hopeful life. Volunteer activities help build character and teach social responsibility, greater empathy and compassion. Teach that who you are is more important that what you have.

"Volunteer Coupons": Gift-giving ideas for children

Download coupons/gift certificates that you can print out and fill in with your own great ideas.PDF (233Kb) orJPEG image (80Kb)
Children want to give their family gifts, too, but limited budgets often make purchases difficult. Let them know that what you really want does not have to come from a store, their time is even more valuable. Maybe helping shovel snow this winter, or vacuuming the house is really the present you are looking for.
Coupon ideas
· Walking the dog after school each day for a period of time.
· Cooking some meals, or offering to help shop and clean up.
· Watching younger brother or sister.
· Commit to extra chores: Housecleaning, shoveling, lawn mowing.
· Make a book of family recipes.
· Putting together a scrap book or family tree.
· Hugs and kisses.

Charitable donations
The holidays are a great time to make donations to local charities and non-profit organizations. You can donate warm clothes, food and/or money. Most charities have their own "wish list": they can tell you what they need the most.
If you are giving a monetary donation, you could make the donation in the name of someone else, a kind of double-gift. Many people feel good knowing that they are helping out someone during the holidays.
Give an Experience
Here's an idea for giving without all of the wrapping: Give an experience. A gift certificate might be just the thing for someone who would like to begin a new hobby or polish the skills they have already learned.

A lot of people would like to try new things, but won't spend the money on themselves. Do you have a brother that has been dying to learn how to play the guitar but has just never signed up for the lessons? A father that loves to play golf but may need a few more lessons?
Gift certificate ideas
· Candlelit dinner
· Music lessons
· Language lessons
· Lessons in baking or a hobbycraft
· Sports instruction: How about a golf lesson?
· A trip to the nearest state park
· Passes to a museum or special exhibit
· Tickets to a play
· Give a membership to an aquarium, atrium, solarium, etc.

Practical gifts
An experience can also be something that you do for someone. Perhaps you can whip up a gourmet meal or teach someone the secrets behind your special talents. It can be very thoughtful when you see a need and take the time to see that it's filled. Giving a gift certificate for bike repair to someone who bikes a lot encourages a non-polluting way to travel. Or, how about giving gift certificates for balancing and rotating your car tires or for oil changes to keep a car as efficient as possible? You could also offer to repair or do work for someone who can't do it himself or herself.

"Eco-friendly" Gifts
If you are looking for something to wrap up for the holidays, there are products that go easy on our planet. Products with little or no packaging, products made from natural ingredients, and products that are made with little or no pollution are all examples of eco-friendly products.
· State park stickers
· Hunting and fishing licenses
· Bus passes
· How about recycled products?
· Compost bins
· Hand-knit items
· Plants
· Seeds and pots for a window-box herb garden
· Fruit baskets
· Bird feeder and seeds
· Reusable cloth shopping bags

Invest in your family
Toys break, clothes are outgrown, and cash is often squandered away. Instead of trinkets today, perhaps you want to help a child plan for the future? There are lots of investment options for those wanting to contribute to a college savings fund. Each plan has its advantages and disadvantages and you need to decide which option makes sense for your family and financial situation.
· U.S. Savings Bonds are long-time favorites for gift-giving. You can give a gift today that will be worth more in the future. Plus, this risk-free investment is a way to invest in the nation. Learn more about your options at
· Contribute to or start an Education IRA. Find out more about Education IRAs from an investment broker or financial planner.

Links you'll like
Tips and inspiration abound on the World Wide Web!
· The Center for a New American Dream offers up ideas to Simplify the Holidays, with suggestions for planning a holiday season that's less focused on "stuff."
· The Use Less Stuff Report (ULS) offers up 42 Ways to Trim Your Holiday Wasteline , an interesting checklist of waste reduction tips for the holidays. Check out Have A Low Impact Y2Kristmas, with more tips about reducing waste during the holidays, and some good advice on how the average person can make the biggest impact on the environment.
· The California Integrated Waste Management Board encourages you to Deck the Halls with Less Waste!
· In King County, Washington, Waste-Free Holidays focus on giving the "gift of experience" instead of "stuff." While these are Seattle-area attractions, there are a lot of ideas that you can find locally.
· The Environmental Defense Fund offers advice to help shoppers use their "greenbacks" to make their world a "greener place."
· Co-op America has put up their WoodWise Holiday Tips, with ideas about how you can slow down in the "race to waste" around the holidays.
· The Media Foundation invites consumers to curtail their desires to consume through its annual Buy Nothing Day. Held on the day after Thanksgiving, the unofficial kick-off of “the holiday season,” and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, this international event is a challenge "to think about the "shop-till-you-drop" imperative and its effects on the rest of the world."

Reducing Waste When Traveling
Travelers can generate a lot of waste and pollution, even with the best intentions. But it isn't hard to make a few changes that can help us avoid a lot of trash and otherwise green up our time away from home.

Tips for reducing waste while traveling
The U.S. Travel Data Center estimates that 43 million U.S. travelers are "ecologically concerned." There are several ways that travelers can reduce waste while traveling. Here are just a few ideas to get started.
· Businesses are responsive to their guests, customers and clients who voice concerns, so speak up. If you have compliments or comments regarding their company's environmental performance, write a note or speak directly to the general manager of the hotel, the operator of a resort or campground, the captain of the airplane, or the manager of your tour company.
· Book your guestrooms, campsites or meeting rooms in places that are clearly interested in protecting our environment, and let management know that's why you've chosen their establishment. Encourage the places you visit to reduce waste and to implement water- and energy-saving measures.
· Use reusable bags, storage containers and towels. Rent equipment, avoid disposables, and pack waste-free picnics by bringing reusables and recyclables home with you. Buy fruits and vegetables without packaging.
· Purchase electronic tickets for air travel whenever possible.
· Going on a fishing trip? Use non-lead sinkers. This will protect wildlife from lead poisoning.
· Gas boats on land instead of in the water to reduce pollution in lakes and rivers.
· Upgrade to the most efficient boat motor. A 4-stroke engine is quieter, 40 times cleaner, and 2 to 4 times more fuel-efficient than a 2-stroke engine. (Focus 10,000: Minnesota's Lakeside Magazine, July 1999)
· Keep campfire ash far from lakeshores to protect water quality.
Travel tidbit: Popular parks For outdoor recreation, state and national parks are a natural choice.
· Americans will make an estimated 291 million visits to National Parks in 2000 — nearly one visit for every U.S. citizen. Learn more about the National Park system by visiting

Feed yourself (not the trash)
Food and packaging waste accounts for as much as half of what is thrown away in a day, especially when you are far from home. Yet there are some easy ways for you to reduce how much food and packaging you throw away.
· Reduce fast food waste and excess packaging in carryout food. "No thanks, I don't need a bag," may draw a curious look, but sometimes you have to speak up for what you don't want.
· Carry your own reusable mug to avoid disposable cups. Most gas stations or convenience stores will let you refill your own cup, and sometimes there's a small discount!
· Pack a cooler of food bought in bulk or deli-style (which are often "least-packaged" options) such as meats, cheeses and cookies.
· Bring along reusable plates and silverware. Use lightweight plastic plates instead of paper plates, because they can be washed and used several times over.
· Avoid room service to reduce the use of disposable items.
· Ask for smaller portions when ordering food where portions are bigger than you can eat.
· Did you grab too many packages of ketchup or mustard? They won't spoil, so save them for next time you have a meal on the go. Same goes for napkins and other conveniences.
· Make sure to promptly refrigerate leftovers you bring home so they don't end up as waste.
· If the nearest trash bin is filled, don't toss your waste beside the can, that's just like littering. Hold onto it until you can dispose of it properly.
Hotel tips
Many hotels have implemented waste reduction practices into their operations. Here are a few things that travelers can do to help hotels reduce the amount of waste they generate.
· Let the hotel know that it's not necessary to change your sheets and towels every day.
· Reduce water use by taking shorter baths or showers.
· When you leave your hotel room, turn off the air conditioner, heat, lights, television, and close the drapes.
· Participate in hotel recycling programs by placing recyclables in appropriate bins.
· Be sure to turn off exercise equipment, sauna, whirlpool, or tennis court lights when you're through.
· Leave the little bottles of bathroom amenities in the room if unopened. Share any complimentary newspapers with others. Leave it in the lobby for reuse or see that it's recycled.
· If available, use the hotel's electronic check-out program on the TV. You can view your bill, approve it, and help reduce paperwork.
The Ecotourism Society offers travel ideas for destinations, tour groups, and many resources to help you make informed travel choices.
· Take only the brochures or maps that you need.
· Take photographs, but avoid disposable cameras that are expensive and wasteful. The Use Less Stuff Report recommends buying rolls of film with 36 shots rather than 12 or 24. You have less packaging waste, and you'll save about 40 percent by the time you get your film processed.
· Do not take "souvenirs" from natural areas, historical areas or hotels.
· Leave only footprints. Take out everything that you brought with you so others can enjoy the area in the same way that you did.
· Protect endangered species and avoid purchasing products such as tortoise shell, ivory, animal skins or feathers. The U.S. Customs Service offers a list of items that cannot be imported or brought into the country.
· When it comes to trash, you can "take it with you." Set an example and pick up at least one piece of litter every day, especially at places with lots of tourists.

Going fishing? Get the lead out! (of your tackle box)
Non-lead sinkers and jigs are effective and protect water birds.
Anglers rely on sinkers and jigs to help them go after "the big ones." Fishing tackle made from lead is heavy, but toxic, and is directly responsible for poisoning wildlife like loons and eagles.
But there are non-toxic alternatives. A growing number of fishing weights are made from bismuth, steel, ceramic and tungsten.
In many areas, non-lead tackle isn't just a good idea,it's the law. Bans and restrictions on lead are in effect in Maine, New Hampshire, and Canadian national wildlife refuges.
Buy environmentally friendly sinkers and jigs at the tackle shop, and encourage stores to stock non-lead alternatives. Plus, spread the word, tell other anglers about the problem, and get them to make a switch!

Reducing Toxics Inside Your House
Chemicals are part of our lives. We treat illnesses, paint our houses, and even clothe ourselves with products that have been developed through chemical research. However, there are reasons to be cautious about our exposure to some chemicals.

Why reduce toxics?
From the foods we eat to how we maintain our yards and clean our homes, we can be exposed to chemicals in many ways. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only a fraction of the more than 75,000 registered chemicals have gone through complete testing for human health concerns. Some chemicals have immediate toxic effects. Others are toxic to our bodies only after repeated, long-term exposure.

Children are especially susceptible to the negative effects of chemicals, warns the EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection. Pound for pound, children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food, and when they play, they crawl and put things in their mouths. As a result, children have an increased chance of exposure to potential pollutants, and because children's bodies are still developing, they may process these pollutants differently from adults. Nursing mothers and women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should also take precautions.

A good principle to follow is always to look for ways to reduce or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals as we go about our daily lives, to keep our homes safe for our children, our pets, and us.

What you can do
Simple changes in our everyday routines can reduce our long-term exposures to low levels of potentially harmful substances, changes in how we choose the products we buy, or the ways we clean our houses and take care of the yard. These changes will not only make our homes safer, they may also save us money.
Consider these helpful ideas for reducing toxic exposures in your home.
Until recently, indoor air pollution has been largely ignored as a source of exposure to toxicity. But studies have shown that levels of harmful chemicals in indoor air may exceed the standards set by the EPA to protect us from harmful chemicals. You can avoid such levels in your home by buying and using products that are free of toxic chemicals whenever possible.
Choosing the products you buy
Whenever possible, buy products that are free of toxic chemicals. Alternatives are available. The market for non-toxic household products is growing in response to customer demand.
· Ingredient lists don't always tell you everything that is in a product but they can offer clues to the toxicity. When purchasing products, take a minute to carefully read the label. Look for products that appear to disclose all their ingredients. The words caution, warning and danger indicate that the product's ingredients are harmful. Choose the least hazardous product to do the job.
· Before you use a product, carefully read the directions and follow the instructions. Be sure to use the correct amount of a product. Remember, you won't get twice the results by using twice as much.
· Select products (cleaners, shampoos, etc.) made from plant-based materials, such as oils made from citrus, seed, vegetable or pine. By doing so, you are selecting products that are biodegradable and generally less toxic. These products also provide the additional benefit of being made from renewable resources. Ask for plant-based products at your local grocery or retail store.
· Choose pump spray containers instead of aerosols. Pressurized aerosol products often produce a finer mist that is more easily inhaled. Aerosols also put unnecessary volatile organic chemicals into your indoor air when you use them.
· Ask for unbleached paper products or products bleached with hydrogen peroxide or oxygen, which produce less pollution during papermaking.
For yourself: Bath, beauty and hygiene products
· Avoid using antibacterial soaps. Antibacterial agents, while not directly harmful to you, contribute to the growing problem we face when bacteria mutate to strains that are more drug-resistant. Remember, however, that hand washing with any soap is still vital to maintaining good health.
· Purchase a mercury-free fever thermometer. Many effective alternatives are on the shelves at your local pharmacy. Broken mercury fever thermometers can be a source of toxic mercury levels in your home and discarded products containing mercury contribute to higher levels in the environment. Consult your county house-hold hazardous waste program manager to learn where to take your old thermometer. (For information, see
· Use eye drops, contact lens solutions, and nasal sprays and drops that are free of thimerosal or other mercury-containing preservatives.
· Look for unscented and natural dyes in products to avoid potential allergic reactions.
· Recipes for personal products using natural ingredients, baking soda, lemon juice, etc. can be found online:
Keeping your house clean

By cleaning with products like these, you can save money and avoid exposure to toxic chemicals.
Remove your shoes when you enter your house. Your shoes can track in harmful amounts of pesticides, lead, cadmium and other chemicals. Keeping a floor mat at your doors for people to wipe their feet on when they enter will also help.

Vacuum carpets and floors regularly. Children playing on your carpet may actually be more exposed to pesticides lodged in the carpet than from the outside, because pesticides break down less readily indoors than outdoors in the sunlight. Use a fine particulate filter, such as a HEPA filter, in your vacuum cleaner, if possible. Otherwise, the dust vacuumed up is redistributed into the air where it can be inhaled.
Single-ingredient, common household materials such as baking soda, vinegar, or plant-based soaps and detergents can often do the job on your carpet or other surfaces. Soap and water has been shown to keep surfaces as free of bacteria as antibacterial soaps do. If your carpet needs professional cleaning, enlist a carpet service that uses less-toxic cleaners that are low in VOCs and irritants.
· Baking soda works well to clean sinks, tubs and toilets, and it freshens drains as well.
· Vegetable oil with a little lemon juice works wonders on wood furniture.
· Simmer a mixture of cloves and cinnamon or use vinegar and water as a safe and environmentally friendly air freshener. Consider how you can eliminate odor problems rather than just covering them up.
· Use vinegar and water in a pump spray bottle for cleaning mirrors and shining chrome. Vinegar or soap and water with drying rags or a squeegee also work well for cleaning windows.
· Use reusable unbleached cotton towels, rags, and non-scratch scrubbing sponges for all-purpose cleaning instead of bleached disposable paper products.
· Use dishwasher detergents that are free of chlorine bleach and lowest in phosphates.
· Use bathroom cleaners that are free of aerosol propellants and antibacterial agents.
What you eat
· Choose organic fruits and vegetables for your family whenever possible. They have been shown to have less pesticide residue.
· Rinse all fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove fertilizer residues.
· Don't microwave foods in plastic containers. Chemicals from the plastic container can become absorbed by food during microwaving. Cover with waxed paper or paper towel instead of plastic wrap to keep food from spattering.
Controlling pests
In order to survive, pests need food, water and living space. Remove all food sources through good sanitation and storage habits (i.e., screw-cap jars, zip-lock bags, garbage pails with tight-fitting lids). Block pest entrances to your kitchen by caulking holes, using door sweeps on the bottom of doors, and keeping window screens in good repair. Avoid placing chemical pesticides around your kitchen to kill indoor insect and rodent pests.
· Avoid using no-pest strips. They contain pesticides that are released to the air in your home.
· When storing winter clothing, use cedar blocks or bags of cedar chips hung with your clothes. Avoid mothballs that contain p-dichloro benzene or naphthalene, which are very toxic and also contribute to respiratory problems.
· Consult your veterinarian for non-toxic pest control products for use on pet pests such as fleas and ticks.
· Use non-toxic head lice treatments, including combing, enzyme-based treatments and mayonnaise or oil. See for more information.
Doing the laundry

Try simple ingredients like Borax, non-chlorine bleach and washing soda.
· Instead of more complicated detergents, try using a combination of washing soda and borax in your machine. These are usually as effective as more complex formulas and are also usually cheaper.
· When possible, hang clothes to dry outside to avoid using the dryer, which uses energy and depletes resources. In winter, fluff the clothes in the dryer, and then hang to dry indoors. You get the added benefit of increased humidity.
· Avoid bleach when possible. If whitening is needed, use non-chlorine bleach, which are oxygen-based and often highly effective.
· Buy clothes that don't need drycleaning or use an alternative called "wet cleaning." Clothes that have been drycleaned emit perchlorethylene, a chemical that can cause cancer. The wet cleaning process uses water so there are no harmful gases emitted from the cleaned clothing. MnTAP maintains a list of cleaners that use the wet cleaning process:
Clotheslines: A healthy hangup
Don't rely on dryer sheets for freshening your laundry. Clotheslines are a great way to keep clothes, sheets and towels smelling clean. Fabrics will last longer if they're not tumbled around, after all, isn't dryer lint made up entirely of material from your clothes?

Building and remodeling
· When building or remodeling your home, ask for building materials and supplies that have the least amount of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds. VOCs have been shown to cause cancer or developmental problems. Toxic fumes can come from unexpected sources like new carpet and cabinets.
· Choose no- and low-VOC paints and varnishes when finishing walls, floors and furniture. Make sure you have proper ventilation.
· Ask for carpeting that meets standards for indoor air quality established by the Carpet and Rug Institute. Once a carpet is installed, thoroughly air out the house for at least 48 hours.
· For decks and playground equipment, use reclaimed cedar or redwood, which is naturally resistant to fungus and insects. Or use recycled plastic lumber. Ask about these products at your home improvement store.
Avoid using "green-treated" lumber, which is treated with the toxic compound copper chromium arsenate (CCA). In particular, don't use it for eating surfaces on picnic tables or children's play equipment. Clean up all scrap treated wood and sawdust and dispose of it properly, it should go to a lined landfill or licensed waste incinerator. Treated wood should not be burned at home for bonfires or stoves/fireplaces.

Reducing toxics in the yard
· Mowing your grass to a height of about 3½ inches is the most important thing you can do to improve the health of your lawn. By keeping grass length longer, the roots grow deeper and can reach more water during dry periods. Longer grass also creates shade, making it harder for weeds to get established.
· If you use a lawn service, consider a service provider that uses less-toxic alternatives.
· Test the soil to see what your soil needs. Apply only as much fertilizer as is needed. Soil test kits can be purchased at a lawn and garden store.

Dig into the root of the problem. Hand- and foot-powered weeding tools.
· If your grass grows in heavy clay soil, aeration can be very beneficial. Aeration decreases compaction and allows air and water to get to the roots.
· Weeds such as dandelions can be removed easily by digging them up with a fishtail weeder when the soil is damp.
· Top dressing your lawn with a compost-soil mix will reduce your lawn's water needs and make it more resistant to drought and disease. You will need to fertilize less often, and when you do, you can use less fertilizer.
· Consider replacing parts of your yard with native perennials that lower maintenance and lessen the need for water and chemicals.
· Ask at your garden store for less-toxic alternatives to chemical pesticides to control pests.

How To Grow A Healthy, No-Waste Lawn and Garden
Caring for all the green and growing things in your yard can have a big effect on how much waste your household creates. From grass clippings and leaves to pesticides and water, the eco-impact of your lawn and garden can be significant.

And when it comes to lawn and garden wastes, "waste" goes beyond what you throw away.
Careless use of fertilizers with high phosphorus and nitrogen content creates nutrient-rich runoff, polluting nearby watersheds, lakes, streams, wetlands, and rivers.
Pesticides, which include insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, are used to control weeds, insects and other pests. These chemicals are toxic to some degree and can pose a threat to people and pets if overused or carelessly applied. They can also kill beneficial earthworms and organisms, disrupting the ecological balance of your lawn.
Cut down on yard waste, healthy lawns and gardens can be maintained in ways that produce less waste, and you can easily manage what's left by composting at home. A healthy lawn and garden can naturally resist weeds and pests. You don't need a lot of chemicals to keep your yard looking green. Learn to read the signs and find out what's really wrong with your plants. Solve your lawn and garden's problems by applying some brainpower before you use pesticides and herbicides.

Double-duty landscaping
When you consider all of the work you put into landscaping your yard, it just makes sense to put that landscaping to work for you. Your garden and landscaping can provide habitat and food for birds and butterflies. The types and location of trees in your yard can reduce heating and cooling costs.
Healthy plants create less waste, need fewer chemicals and require less watering. Learn about the condition of your soil, and consider factors like sunlight and moisture. Native plants will reduce the need for extra watering, fertilizers and pesticides.

Get to know your garden site. For example, how long is it exposed to sunlight? What is the soil type? Does the soil hold moisture well? What will you keep and what will you take out? How will your plants influence wild native plants, or be influenced by nearby weedy exotics? Answering these questions will help you better plan your garden and landscaping to fit your needs and budget.

Garden to encourage wildlife
Native plants often require less water, fertilizer and pesticides. Select plants that can provide habitat, food, water and shelter to birds and other wildlife.
Your backyard flower garden can become a lively butterfly, moth, and hummingbird garden if you choose the right flowers. Here's just one design idea.
Native woodland wildflower garden for butterfly, bee, moth and hummingbird use. For sunny to partially shaded sites.

Landscape to decrease energy use
Proper selection and placement of your trees can help reduce your use of energy year-round.
· East & West: You can add energy savings to your home by planting trees for summer shade on the west and east windows. In the winter when the leaves fall, the branches will let sunlight through.
· Northwest: You can also use trees to create wind breaks and increase tree canopy.
· South: Avoid planting trees on the south side of your house. During the winter months, you'll get more sunlight and free heat.
Find out even more
· Backyard Conservation (U.S. Department of Agriculture)This campaign shows you how conservation practices that conserve and improve natural resources can be adapted for use on the land around your home. Ten conservation practices have been scaled down for homeowners and city residents to use in their yards. Tip sheets offer "how-to" steps and helpful hints.
· Butterfly Gardening (U of M - Extension)Butterfly gardens help restore habitat to urban areas. They can be as simple as providing the appropriate variety of host plants for larval growth and adult feeding. Plants used in butterfly gardening include native plants as well as different annuals and perennials. Learn more about butterflies and their needs.
· Green Landscaping with Native Plants (U.S. EPA)Landscaping with native wildflowers and grasses has a positive effect on the environment. This site contains extensive information on natural landscaping — the benefits, how to get started, plant descriptions, and case studies.
· Natural Landscaping Source Book (U.S. EPA, Region 5)Local officials are in a position to advocate natural landscaping and bring its benefits to their communities. The source book explains the basic principles and benefits of natural landscaping; demonstrates the feasibility of using natural landscaping successfully; explains how local officials can provide leadership to encourage the use of natural landscaping; offers tools and techniques; and offers referrals to other sources of information and expertise.
· Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series (U of M - Extension)A landscape developed with sustainable practices will conserve resources, help reduce chemical use, require less labor, and be less expensive to create and maintain. SULIS provides sustainable landscape information to the public and to the horticulture/landscape industry, from planning to maintenance.
Timely tip: A checklist for safely storing household chemicals
Household chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers can become wastes if they're not stored carefully. Follow these easy tips to keep products usable for future projects.
· Always store chemicals out of reach of children and pets.
· Never store chemicals near sources of heat, sparks or flames.
· Store chemicals in a dry place.
· Keep chemicals from freezing. However, DO NOT store gasoline or other fuels in your house, they're a fire hazard.
· Store chemicals in their original containers with labels intact.
· If a container is leaking, place the whole container into a larger one and call your county for disposal advice.
IPM: Doing your best against pests
Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests and pest damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.

Links to help you think· Garden Gate magazine has an excellent introduction to IPM in the article "Integrated Pest Management is the cornerstone of smart gardening" (June 1997). Their five-step process makes it easier for the homeowner to get started.
· Check out the Landscape IPM Diagnostic Site by the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability (CUES). This Web site at the University of Minnesota offers guidance on controlling pests that affect common trees and plants. It also offers links to IPM resources.
· Serious students can access Radcliffe's IPM World Textbook, a free online publication from the U of M's Department of Entomology. The site is dedicated to up-to-date research and information on IPM, and is affiliated with the National IPM Network.
Greener landscaping: Alternatives to treated lumber
Many homeowners use treated wood for landscaping or home construction. Treated lumber contains chemical preservatives (pesticides) that inhibit fungal decay and extend the life of the wood. Some of the chemicals used in treating wood are toxic. Here are some tips for reducing the pollution from treated lumber.
· Protect drinking water. Federal guidelines tell consumers not to use any type of treated wood where the wood would come into direct or indirect contact with drinking water supplies. (Incidental contact, such as with docks or bridges, is considered acceptable.)
· Find alternatives. There are other rot- and insect-resistent materials that can replace treated lumber.
· Metal and plastic dock materials, both recycled and new.
· Untreated cedar for the portions of decks and playground equipment that people frequently touch or use.
· Stone, brick, or landscape blocks for gardening and landscaping.
· Steel pilings filled with concrete in place of creosote-treated pilings for underground construction.
· Wood treated with less-toxic preservatives, such as ACQ, copper azole and ammoniacal copper citrate.
· Dispose of treated lumber safely. Homeowners may dispose of any treated wood waste in lined mixed-municipal solid waste landfills or permitted waste incinerators. Contact your county solid waste office for local information. Never burn treated wood in stoves, fireplaces or recreational or cooking fires; open burning of treated wood is prohibited by state law. Such low-temperature burning of treated wood releases toxic chemicals into the air and concentrates them in the ash.
· Preserve existing wood structures with coatings to protect wood, such as stains, paints and water-sealants (which are not true wood preservatives), which can be applied after wood is already in place. Apply these coatings with care to avoid spills and leaks.
Yard Wastes In The Municipal Waste Stream
Grass, leaves, and other wastes from lawns and backyard gardens account for an estimated 18% of the annual municipal waste stream. The percentage and composition of yard wastes varies widely from season to season. During the summer, grass can comprise up to 50% of municipal waste. Leaf waste can account for as much as 60-80% in the fall.

Disposal Problems
This massive, seasonal volume of yard wastes can put a strain on municipal garbage collection systems. Collection can require extra equipment that is not needed year-round and can increase personnel expenses.

Yard waste is a strain on disposal facilities. The large volume uses up valuable landfill space. The high moisture content of yard waste retards burning, which reduces the efficiency of waste-to-energy plants. Large incinerators built to handle peak seasonal rates of yard waste, may be oversized and less efficient at burning wastes the rest of the year. Burning yard wastes also puts a strain on pollution control systems. Burning yard wastes at home causes air pollution from carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, is a fire hazard, and is a nuisance to neighbors.

A "Recyclable" Material
Yard wastes are recyclable. Landfilling or burning them consumes a resource that is necessary to sustain life. Nature breaks down plant wastes through decay. The decomposed materials form a rich, dark soil called humus. Humus returns nutrients to the soil, improves soil texture, and promotes new plant growth.

Yard waste is composed of materials that, if left in their natural state, would form humus. Composting is an accelerated version of the natural decay process. Left to decay naturally, leaf waste can take approximately two years to form humus, depending upon climate conditions. With human intervention, making compost can take longer than one year or as little as 14 days.

In cultivated lawns and gardens, where this material is removed as waste, nutrients and conditioners must be mixed into the soil to promote healthy plant growth. Compost is made of the same materials and has the same properties as humus. When used as a mulch, it can modify soil temperatures, reduce erosion, control weeds and improve moisture retention.

Separation Of Leaf Waste In Mandated Communities
Leaf waste must be separated from other residential wastes in municipalities required to recycle under Act 101 of 1988, the "Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act." Commercial, municipal and institutional establishments located within these municipalities also must separate leaf waste and store it until collection. Effective September 26, 1990, no waste disposal facility may accept shipments comprised primarily of leaf waste unless a separate facility has been provided for composting.

Backyard Composting
You can make a ton of compost at home in an area only 4' square. If you don't have a backyard, you can make smaller amounts of compost in plastic garbage bags. Backyard composting not only reduces the expense of buying fertilizers for gardens, landscaping and potted plants, it reduces municipal collection and disposal costs. Since many foods can be composted, including coffee grounds and eggshells, home composting can reduce food wastes as well as yard wastes. If you are interested in backyard composting, contact DEP for more information.

Grass Clippings
Bagging your clippings is not necessary to maintain your lawn. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn after mowing ensures that nutrients will be returned to the soil. Grass clippings are 20-30% protein, and usually contain about 4% nitrogen, 2% potassium and 0.5% phosphorus as well as all the necessary trace elements plants need.

When leaving clippings on the lawn, adjust your lawn mower to remove no more than one third (1/3) of the grass leaf surface at any one mowing. Any mower can be used, but one that mulches as it cuts is best. Use a slow-release fertilizer, water when necessary, and mow the grass at the proper height. Your county agricultural agent (check your local telephone directory) can provide general information on proper mowing heights, fertilizing and watering.

Compostable Materials
Most yard wastes can be composted, including leaves, grass clippings, plant stalks, vines, weeds, twigs and branches. Compostable food wastes include fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and nutshells. Other compostable materials are hair clippings, feathers, straw, livestock manure, bonemeal and bloodmeal.

Materials should NOT be composted if they promote disease, cause odors, attract pests, or create other nuisances. These include meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, foods containing animal fats, human/pet feces, weeds with developed seed heads, and plants infected with or highly susceptible to disease, such as roses and peonies.

Materials that should be composted only in limited amounts include wood ashes (a source of lime), sawdust (requires extra nitrogen), plants treated with herbicides or pesticides (the chemicals need time for thorough decomposition), and black and white newsprint (composts slowly, so it should comprise no more than 10% by weight of the total pile).

Composting Requirements
Shredded Organic Wastes. Shredding, chopping or even bruising organic materials hastens decay. One way to shred leaves is to mow the lawn before raking, collecting the shredded leaves in the mower bag. It takes at least 34 cubic feet of shredded material to form a compost pile.
Good Location. The compost pile should be located in a warm area and protected from overexposure to wind and too much direct sunlight. While heat and air facilitate composting, overexposure dries the materials. The location should not offend neighbors.
Nitrogen. Nitrogen accelerates composting. Good sources include fresh grass clippings, manure, bloodmeal and nitrogenous fertilizer. Lime should be used sparingly if at all. It enhances decomposition, but too much causes nitrogen loss, and it usually isn`t necessary unless the pile contains large amounts of pine and spruce needles or fruit wastes.
Air. The compost pile and its enclosure should be well ventilated. Some decay will occur without oxygen, but the process is slow and causes odors.
Water. Materials in the compost pile should be kept as moist as a squeezed sponge. Too little or too much water retards decomposition. Over watering causes odors and loss of nutrients.

Building An Enclosure
Enclosing the compost pile saves space and prevents litter. The enclosure should be collapsible or provide an entry large enough to permit the pile to be turned. It should measure at least 4'X4'X4' (a pile under 3 cubic feet generally does not decompose properly), but no taller than 6' (too much weight causes compaction and loss of oxygen). The enclosure can be built of wood, pallets, hay bales, cinder blocks, stakes and chicken wire, or snow fencing. Prefabricated compost bins are also available.

Building The Pile
Aside from the basic requirements for decomposition and preventing odors and other nuisances, there is no set method for building a compost pile. One technique may be faster than another, but a variety of methods work well. Piles can be built in layers to ensure the proper proportion of carbon (e.g., leaves, woody materials) to nitrogen (grass, fertilizer), but the layers should be thoroughly intermixed after the pile is built.

Turning and mixing the pile with a pitchfork or shovel, or shifting it into another bin, provides the oxygen necessary for decomposition and compensates for excess moisture. A pile that is not mixed may take 34 times longer to decompose. Recommendations for mixing the pile vary from every 3 days to every 6 weeks. More frequent turning results in faster composting. Odors indicate that the pile is too damp or lacks oxygen, and that more frequent turning is necessary.

Occasional watering may be necessary to keep the pile damp, especially in dry weather. Covering the pile with black plastic reduces the need for watering; it also prevents rainwater from leaching out the nutrients.

A pile that is decomposing properly should generate temperatures of 140°-160°F at its center. The heat kills most weed seeds, insect eggs and diseases. The pile should be turned when the center begins to cool. Turning the pile maintains the temperature and ensures that all material is exposed to the center heat. When the compost is finished, the pile will no longer heat up.
Small amounts of fresh materials may be added but should be buried inside the pile to avoid pests and speed composting. It is better to add fresh materials to a new pile.

Finished Compost
Finished compost is dark brown, crumbly, and has an earthy odor. Depending upon seasonal temperatures, a well-built, well-tended pile generally yields finished compost in 2 weeks to 4 months. An unattended pile made with unshredded material may take longer than a year to decompose.

Instructions For Fast Composting
shredded leaves (about 2/3 by volume)
fresh grass clippings (about 1/3 by volume, or slightly more for faster decomposition)
kitchen scraps (grind in blender)
Begin the pile with a 4" layer of leaves. Add a 2" layer of grass clippings. Repeat the layers until the pile is about 4' high, then add the kitchen scraps.

Chop vertically through the pile with the tines of a pitchfork to thoroughly bruise and mix the materials. Add just enough water to moisten the pile, then cover it with a black plastic garbage bag. Using the same chopping technique, turn the pile on the second day after the pile is built, again on the fourth day, then every three days until the compost is finished. Except in dry weather, no further watering should be necessary.

The compost should be finished in about two weeks.

Alternate Composting Methods
Compost can be made in a garbage can, barrel or drum that has a secure lid. Drill holes in the sides and bottom of the container to allow for air circulation and water drainage, and place it upright on blocks. Fill 3/4 of the container with organic wastes, add a little nitrogenous fertilizer (about 1/4 cup for a 55gallon barrel), and moisten the materials. Every few days shake the container or turn it on its side and roll it to mix the compost. The lid should be removed after turning to allow air penetration. This method yields finished compost in about 24 months.

Another method is to use a 30 or 40gallon plastic garbage bag. Fill the bag with organic materials, nitrogen and lime (one cup per bag helps counteract acidity caused by anaerobic composting). Shake well to mix materials. Add about 1 quart of water and close the bag tightly. Bags can be stored outdoors in the summer and in a heated basement or garage during the winter. No turning or additional water is necessary. The compost should be finished in about 6 -12 months.

You can have a healthy green lawn by leaving grass clippings where they fall. It's simple. Grass clippings left on the lawn decompose and act as a natural organic fertilizer. This lets you reduce the amount of commercial fertilizer you need to apply. Your lawn will remain healthy and green because each time you mow, you will be returning valuable nutrients to the soil.

Mowing Techniques & Tips· Any mower can recycle grass clippings. Just remove the grass catcher. Ask your lawn mower dealer if you need a special safety plug or adapter kit to convert your mower into a "recycling" mower. Installing a mulching blade also is helpful.
· Never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade in one mowing. Keep grass mowed to 2" in early spring, gradually raise the height to 3-4" by summer, then gradually reduce to 2" by late fall.
· Mow when the grass is dry.
· Keep your mower blade sharp. Dull mowers tear the grass blade, injure the plant and cause a brownish cast to the turf.
· If the grass gets too high, mow over the clippings a second time to further shred and scatter them.
· To prevent excess growth between mowings, raise the mower height, mow, then gradually lower it over a span of several mowings. This will help prevent shock to the plants.
· When it's time to replace your mower, consider a mulching, recycling or nonpolluting reel mower. All of them do a good job of shredding and scattering grass clippings.
What About Thatch?
Thatch, a matted layer of dead roots and stems, usually is caused by too much water and fertilizer. Clippings don't produce thatch because they are 80 percent water and decompose quickly. A thatch layer of more than 1/2" should be removed.

Uses For Clippings· COMPOST. Fresh clippings should compose no more than 1/3 of the compost pile. They are an excellent source of nitrogen. Mix thoroughly with "brown" materials such as leaves or straw and turn the pile regularly to aerate it and prevent odors.
· MULCH. Pile about 1" of dried clippings on the soil to reduce weeds and moderate soil temperature. Mulching also controls erosion, run-off and evaporation. If using herbicides, wait at least two mowings after treating the lawn to use the clippings.
· SOIL ADDITIVE. Mixing fresh grass clippings into the garden improves soil texture, promotes moisture retention and adds nutrients and organic matter. About once a month, turn a 2" layer of grass into the soil to a depth of 6".
Plant Some Roots
Landscaping, growing a garden, and planting new trees do all kinds of things to help the environment. They also make us feel better and encourage less littering.

Why are trees important? Trees pump out oxygen, remove pollution from the air, provide shelter to wildlife, slow storm water runoff, prevent soil erosion, provide shade to keep cities cool, and reduce noise. All that, and they look great too!
· Learn more about trees and find the next Arbor Day in your state. It’s a day in spring observed by planting trees.
· There are about 150,000 community urban gardens in the U.S. Check the list and see how many are in your City. In addition to providing flowers and food, community gardens bring folks together and restore vacant properties.
Make It Happen1. Spruce up parks, playgrounds, and other areas that have fallen into disrepair. Then plant some trees.
2. Invite someone from the parks department or nature center to talk to your class about the best types of trees for your region and how to take care of them.
3. Visit the American Community Gardening Association and find out how to create, or participate, in a community garden.
4. The National Arbor Day Foundation recognizes hundreds of towns and cities as a “Tree City USA.” Find out if your City qualifies and how you can help.

Shade trees help conserve energy, saving up to 50% of air conditioning costs. In winter, windbreak trees can reduce heating bills as much as 30%.

Maintain Your Vehicle
Your vehicle can be a large source of pollution, both through tailpipe emissions and through maintenance. Proper care of your vehicle includes regular servicing and being responsible for the resulting wastes, especially used oil and oil filters.

Example: Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance: change your oil regularly, keep the tires inflated correctly, and have your vehicle serviced regularly. Always make sure you properly dispose of your used oil and filters. You're not just protecting the environment, you're protecting your investment.

Benefits: Proper maintenance of your car will ensure that it will last longer, save you money and reduce the need to buy a new one. Finding other ways to get to where you need to go lowers emissions given off to the environment. Properly managing waste oil and oil filters keeps these contaminants out of landfills and energy recovery facilities (garbage incinerators) and helps protect our natural resources.

Timely tip: Use a funnel to prevent spills
Engine coolant, motor oil and windshield washer fluid are critical to your automobile's performance, but are difficult to pour. Even small spills onto your driveway or the street can be bad for the environment. These spills wash into the storm sewers, which typically dump directly into lakes, streams or rivers. Keep spills to a minimum by using a funnel for pouring fluids into your car.

Since 1991, over 40 million gallons of used oil have been collected for recycling. Each year, through routine changes of engine oil, Americans dump 350 million gallons of used oil into the nation's waterways, the equivalent of 16 Exxon Valdez oil spills. Used motor oil and oil filters must not be thrown in the trash, poured onto the ground, or put into the water. Find out where they can be recycled. Look for a list at your local retailer, or contact your county household hazardous waste program.

Creating Less Trash at School
There are lots of ways that we can reduce waste at school. By thinking ahead and being creative, you can reduce your impact on the environment and save money at the same time.

Pack a no-waste lunch
A "no-waste lunch" is a meal that does not end up in the trash. You can buy food items in bulk then put them in reusable containers to carry to school.

Example: Use a reusable lunch box or bag and fill it with your lunch in reusable containers. You could also include a cloth napkin, don't forget to bring it home so you can wash it and use it again. Another idea is to ask your school cafeteria to use items such as reusable trays, napkins and silverware.
Benefits: You create less waste by using washable containers to pack your lunch. Packing your food in reusables is typically less expensive than buying food that comes in disposable containers.

Take only as much food as you will eat
More than 20 percent of the food we buy gets thrown away. One way to figure out how much food you waste is to measure and track all the food you throw away from your lunch over a fixed period of time. Then you could brainstorm ways to reduce how much food you are throwing in the garbage.

Example: If you are bringing lunch from home, you can use an icepack so that it stays fresh until it is eaten. If you buy from the school cafeteria, only take a small portion of food; if you're still hungry, go back for seconds!
Benefits: About 48 million tons of food are thrown away in the United States each year. By taking only what you can eat or sharing your extras with a friend, you are taking steps to waste less and save money.

Carry a few reusables
At the beginning of each school year, it seems like we need to buy lots of supplies. When you go to the store, look for durable, long-lasting supplies and reuse them.

Example: Refillable pens and pencils, a durable backpack and a lunchbox are all great examples of products that can be used over and over again.
Benefits: Items that can be used more than once will reduce waste. If you take care of them, they will last a long time, and maybe you won't have to buy new ones the next year!

Use less paper
Even though we recycle much of the paper we use, it is still a significant part of what we throw in the trash. Think about all of the paper you've thrown away that only had writing on one side. Those pieces of paper could have been used a second time, potentially cutting your paper use in half. Also, by buying paper and notebooks that contain recycled paper, you complete the recycling loop and create less waste.

Example: Make room in your classroom or at home to put paper that has only been used on one side. Use that paper for notes, or feed the blank side into your printer for draft documents. You can also make scratch pads out of that single-sided paper by binding one side. Can you "go paperless?" Ask your teacher if you can hand in assignments on a computer disk or via e-mail instead.
Benefits: Because paper and packaging make up such a large part of our garbage, by using less paper you can reduce up to 40 percent of the trash that is thrown away.

Organize A School-Wide Rummage Sale
Rummage sales are a great way to pass along items that you no longer want to someone who might need them. Instead of throwing your unwanted items away, they will be put to good use.

Example: Plan a class or school-wide rummage sale with your teacher. Collect donations for the sale. Sell used items such as clothes, furniture and sporting goods at an end-of-the-year sale.
Benefits: Buying used items is not only cheaper, but someone else's trash might be your treasure!

Used Chic
Buying things "used" is inexpensive and prevents waste. Don't let current fashion fads dictate what you buy, set your own style!

Helping "U" reduce wasteShopping the University of Minnesota's perpetual garage sale Center, 3009 Como Ave SE612-626-9152 or recycle@umn.eduPublic Hours: 8am-5:30pm Thursdays.Payment by check only.

On the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus, the recycling program knew that there was a lot of "gold" in the trash bins of the "maroon and gold." With the help of a grant from the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, they established a program for the recovery of materials for reuse.

The Reuse Program lists items available for reuse on their Web site, using it as a "virtual warehouse" with pictures and descriptions of their constantly-shifting stock. They list furniture, office equipment, office supplies, and even computer equipment.
Some of the items are available only to university departments, while others are available at low or no cost to students and the general public. When this kind of energy is dedicated top reducing waste, "the Ski-U-Mah's the limit."

Get informed and become more aware
Your local lending library is one of best-known examples of a successful reuse program. Talk to your teacher about starting or joining an environmental group at school or look for ways to increase your awareness of natural surroundings and environmental issues.

Example: Set up a school waste reduction campaign with your environmental club. You could turn visits to nature areas and parks into service learning class projects.
Benefits: Being informed about environmental issues will give you the knowledge to help yourself and others become environmentally friendly. Connecting your activities with nature helps to increase appreciation and gives extra motivation to take actions to preserve and protect it.

Become a Paperless Office
Despite your forest of filing cabinets, are you able to find that report you need for your meeting in 5 minutes? Take steps to reduce your consumption of paper and increase efficiency at work to save time, money, and resources.

The 3 E’s: Economical, Environmental, Efficient
Are you a paper pusher? The typical workplace is hooked on paper, with some shocking statistics.
· The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
· The United States alone, which has less than 5% of the world's population, consumes 30% of the world's paper.
· Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
· Printing and writing paper equals about one-half of U.S. paper production.
Economical: Saving paper saves money
You're probably thinking, "What's the big deal, my office doesn't spend much on paper." But what most people don't realize is that the cost of buying paper is just the tip of the paper iceberg. For each sheet of paper used, a company incurs not only purchasing costs, but also storage, copying, printing, postage, disposal, and recycling,and it adds up. A recent study estimates that associated paper costs could be as much as 31 times the purchasing costs (not including labor). So, that ream of paper that you paid $5 for really could cost up to $155!
· Citigroup, a large financial services company, determined that if each employee used double-sided copying to conserve just one sheet of paper each week, the firm would save $700,000 each year.
· Bank of America cut its paper consumption by 25% in two years by increasing the use of on-line forms and reports, e-mail, double-sided copying, and lighter-weight paper.
Environmental: Saving paper use reduces our impact
Creating paper from trees requires a lot of natural resources. Paper is an office necessity and is needed to complete essential tasks, but there are ways that we can help by reducing the amount of paper that we consume. Even with recycling efforts, paper makes up over 25% of most states garbage, we're throwing away a lot of resources!

Efficient: Saving paper increases efficiency
Paperwork! It brings to mind filling out unnecessarily complicated forms. Electronic forms can now make that job easier and more efficient. Businesses that have converted to electronic forms and filing systems have found that it takes less time to both find and process information. This doesn't mean that electronic forms should replace all paper. In some instances, paper will be the best tool, but most businesses find that reducing their paper use increases their efficiency. Whenever we have fewer sheets of paper in our homes and offices, we spend less time looking for those that are misplaced or lost.

Tips for reducing office paper waste
Use both sides. When you use the front and back of a piece of paper, you can cut your paper use and costs in half.
· Set computer defaults to print double-sided.
· Make double-sided copies when possible.
· Use one-sided paper in your fax machine or as scratch paper.
Think before you print or copy
· Sometimes it is necessary for documents to be printed. Try to print responsibly.
· Preview documents before printing. Using the print preview allows you to proofread your document for errors before you print. Always use the spell/grammar tool to help avoid errors that can cause documents to be reprinted.
· Print only the pages you need. If only a few pages of the document are needed, print only those pages instead of the whole report. Most software programs provide this option under the print function.
· Promote a "think before you copy" attitude. Consider sharing some documents with co-workers. Print only the number of copies needed for the meeting, don't make extras.
Go electronic
· Route memos and newsletters that employees should see, but do not need to keep. That way newsletters and other documents can be shared.
· Use revision features in word processing software. You can edit draft documents on screen instead of printing out drafts and making hand-written comments.
· Send information electronically. Use e-mails instead of fax or letters when possible. It's faster.
· Print more words on each page (e.g., smaller font, narrower margins). Change the default on your computer to reduce the margins a little or to use an efficient font like Times New Roman.
· Create an electronic filing system for quick, easy retrieval.
Keep forms and lists up-to-date
· Reduce unwanted mail. Much of the marketing mail that your office receives is discarded immediately, and you foot the bill for recycling or disposal, not to mention the time it takes to sort and deliver mail. Cut down on the amount of unwanted mail by keeping your employees' names off of mail lists to begin with.
· Eliminate unnecessary forms. Figure out if all forms are still used, sometimes documents become obsolete and are no longer needed. If forms are still needed consider making forms electronic.
Close the loop on recycling
· Recycle all of your office paper. If your office doesn't recycle yet, start a recycling office paper program. It can save your organization money and reduce your waste.
· Buy recycled content paper, and paper that is made without chlorine.
Be nice to your copier...
and your copier will be nice to you. Keep copiers and printers in good repair and make it policy to only buy copiers and printers that make reliable double-sided copies. Let your copier maintenance person know when a copier is performing poorly (toner is low, jams frequently, etc.). Regular copier maintenance is important, especially if the toner is low. Many times copiers are used until all the toner is gone and that wears down machines. A copier that works well is less likely to jam and this helps save paper!

Compound savings
Think about that 10-page, single-sided report you're dropping in the mail. You need an extra stamp, don't you? Take that same report and send it double-sided. Now you've cut your paper cost in half, and you don't need to pay the extra postage.

The Paper Reduction Toolkit
Factsheet and posters
Fact sheet: Office Paper Reduction
Poster: Discover your paper's other side: Make use of your copier's ability to duplex
Poster: Stop the hail of junk mail: Reduce unsolicited mail to your business
Poster: Default to Duplex: Set your computer default to 2-sided printing
Flash/Shockwave files
Animated files to use in your office. Not too big to email, but easy to link to on, too. Two styles: "Green Screen" is more corporate, while the "Animation" set is a little more fun.
Require Macromedia Flash Player.To play file: Click the icon.To save file: Right-click and choose 'Save Link/Target As' to save to your computer or network.

Growth in paper use

Cost of paper

Duplex printing: Set your computer default to duplex print

Think before you print

Double-sided copying

Test before copying big jobs

Don't print emails: Save electronically

Don't print web sites unnecessarily

Page formatting and font selection

Reduce business junk mail

The Benefits Of Recycling
Recycling Saves Natural Resources
Our finite reserves of natural resources are being depleted rapidly, particularly with the increasing use of disposable products and packaging. This rate of use and disposal takes a particularly heavy toll on irreplaceable natural resources from our forests and mines.

Reprocessing used materials to make new products and packaging reduces the consumption of natural resources. Recycling often produces better products than those made of virgin materials; for instance, the tin in "tin" cans is more refined (thus more valuable) after being processed for recycling.

You Can Make A Difference
Environmental problems have become so complex that many individuals feel they can have no effect on them. Problems like global warming, hazardous waste, loss of rain forests, endangered species, acid rain, the ozone layer, the municipal waste crisis can feel out of our control. At the very least, these problems require group and corporate action or government intervention.

But there are some things the individual can control. Our waste reduction and recycling activities can make a difference. Recycling makes a difference. It's the right thing to do.

Recycling Saves Energy
Energy savings are a very important environmental benefit of recycling, because using energy requires the consumption of scarce fossil fuels and involves emissions of numerous air and water pollutants. The steps in supplying recycled materials to industry (including collection, processing and transportation) typically use less energy than the steps in supplying virgin materials to industry (including extraction, refining, transportation and processing).

Additional energy savings associated with recycling accrue in the manufacturing process itself, since the materials have already undergone processing.
Recycling paper cuts energy usage in half. Every pound of steel recycled saves 5,450 BTUs of energy, enough to light a 60-watt bulb for over 26 hours. Recycling a ton of glass saves the equivalent of nine gallons of fuel oil. Recycling used aluminum cans requires only about five percent of the energy needed to produce aluminum from bauxite. Recycling just one can saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for 3½ hours.

Recycling Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions
By reducing the amount of energy used by industry, recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps prevent global climate change. This is because much of the energy used in industrial processes and in transportation involves burning fossil fuels like gasoline, diesel and coal, the most important sources of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. Additional benefits are derived from reduced emissions from incinerators and landfills and by slowing the harvest of trees, which are carbon sinks. In 2003, recycling reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2 million metric tons of carbon equivalent.

Recycling Reduces Emissions of Air and Water Pollutants
In addition to greenhouse gases, recycling can reduce a range of pollutants from entering the air and water. By decreasing the need to extract and process new raw materials from the earth, recycling can eliminate the pollution associated with the initial stages of a product's development: material extraction, refining and processing. These activities pollute the air, land, and water with toxic materials, such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, methane, and sulfur dioxides. Further reductions are achieved as a result of energy saving, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. In addition to the greenhouse gas reductions mentioned previously, additional reductions of air emissions due to recycling total 285,430 million tons. Reduced water emissions total over 8,000 tons

Recycling Provides Economic Benefits
By converting waste into valuable products, recycling creates jobs, contributes feedstock to manufacturing, and adds significant value to the entire U.S. economy.

Recycling manufacturing involves the actual conversion of recyclables into products. The primary recycling manufacturers in order of magnitude are steel mills, plastic converters, paper and paperboard mills, and nonferrous metal manufacturers. Recycling manufacturing employs over 64,000 people with a payroll of almost $2.5 billion and annual sales of over $15.5 billion.

Reuse and remanufacturing focuses on the refurbishing and repair of products to be reused in their original form. The largest activities are retail sales of used merchandise and reuse of used motor vehicle parts. The amount of value that can be added via this process is limited because of competition from new products. Nevertheless, reuse and manufacturing contributes over 7,000 jobs, a payroll of $115 million and sales of over a half billion dollars.

Downstream Economic Benefits
In addition to the direct benefits, support businesses that provide goods and services to the recycling and reuse establishments also contribute to the Commonwealth's economy. These supporting activities include recycling and reuse equipment manufacturers, consulting/ engineering services, brokers, and transporters. These contribute an additional 13,297 jobs and $1.8 billion in receipts.
Resource ExchangeBusinesses, schools, and cities are finding treasures in trash. Everyone wins when cities help match waste with need through a resource exchange . Get your city on board.
Clean BusinessStep up business efforts to maximize recovery and minimize solid waste. Set a standard of environmental excellence for the work place.
CompostingNationally, nearly 57% of yard trimmings are recycled. A growing recovery practice, composting turns leaves, grass, and brush into an organic soil conditioner.
Recycling Process
Collecting and processing secondary materials, manufacturing recycled-content products, and then purchasing recycled products creates a circle or loop that ensures the overall success and value of recycling.

Step 1. Collection and Processing Collecting recyclables varies from community to community, but there are four primary methods: curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit/refund programs.
Regardless of the method used to collect the recyclables, the next leg of their journey is usually the same. Recyclables are sent to a materials recovery facility to be sorted and prepared into marketable commodities for manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like any other commodity, and prices for the materials change and fluctuate with the market.

Step 2. Manufacturing Once cleaned and separated, the recyclables are ready to undergo the second part of the recycling loop. More and more of today's products are being manufactured with total or partial recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include newspapers and paper towels; aluminum, plastic, and glass soft drink containers; steel cans; and plastic laundry detergent bottles. Recycled materials also are used in innovative applications such as recovered glass in roadway asphalt (glassphalt) or recovered plastic in carpeting, park benches, and pedestrian bridges.

Step 3. Purchasing Recycled ProductsPurchasing recycled products completes the recycling loop. By "buying recycled," governments, as well as businesses and individual consumers, each play an important role in making the recycling process a success. As consumers demand more environmentally sound products, manufacturers will continue to meet that demand by producing high-quality recycled products. Click here to learn more about recycling terminology and to find tips on identifying recycled products.

For recycling to work, everyone has to participate in each phase of the loop. From government and industry, to organizations, small businesses, and people at home, every American can make recycling a part of their daily routine. Below are some ways in which businesses, local governments, and citizens can get involved:
· Visit the Web site for EPA's WasteWise program.
· Get involved with your local or state recycling organization. For a list of state organizations, visit the National Recycling Coalition's Web site.
· Buy recycled-content products. Visit the Web site for EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for lists of manufacturers of recycled-content products.
Local Governments
· Improve the efficiency of your collection program. An EPA resource entitled Getting More for Less: Improving Collection Efficiency [Adobe PDF, 880 KB, about PDF] (EPA530-R-99-038) explains several important strategies for improving efficiency as well as case studies of communities that have reaped the benefits of improved solid waste collection.
· Practice full cost accounting (FCA). Visit the FCA Web site for more information on using FCA to assist with identifying and assessing the costs of solid waste management.
· Identify opportunities to increase recycling rates. Visit Pennsylvania's Web site for examples of local government projects in Pennsylvania to help meet or exceed the state's 35 percent recycling goal. Also, view EPA's guidance on measuring the success of your state or local recycling program.

· Recycle at home. Find out if there is a recycling program in your community. If so, participate in the program by separating and putting out your recyclables for curbside pickup or taking them to your local drop-off or buy-back center.
· Shop smarter. Use products in containers that can be recycled in your community and items that can be repaired or reused. Also, support recycling markets by buying and using products made from recycled materials.
The Recycling LoopAmerican communities recycled and composted nearly 30% of municipal solid waste in 2001, diverting 68 million tons to recovery. Recycling begins when individuals collect and set aside materials to be recovered through curbside, drop-off, school, office building, and other collection programs. Haulers pick up recyclables and transport them to a processing facility where they are separated to create the highest value raw materials. These are sold to manufacturers for making new products. The cycle begins again when consumers purchase products and packaging with recycled content.
PaperPaper recovered for recycling has increased almost 100% since 1987. In 2002, Americans recycled 47.6 million tons, a little over 48% of all paper consumed in the U.S.
· Newspapers - 71% of all newspapers are recovered for recycling. Over a third goes back into making more newsprint. The remainders is used to make paperboard, tissue, and insulation, or exported.
· Boxes - 74% of boxes, or corrugated containers, are recycled. About 64% are recycled into new boxes. Another 17% are used for paperboard packaging, like cookie and cracker boxes.
· Office Paper - Nearly 46% of office papers are recovered for recycling. These become raw material for paperboard, tissue, and printing and writing papers.
Recovered paper accounts for nearly 38% of fiber used to make new paper products. While paper fibers cannot be recycled forever, paper is made from a renewable resource, trees.
After achieving nearly 50% recovery, the paper industry has set a new, higher paper recovery goal of 55% by 2012. The industry expects an increased demand for recycled paper both overseas and in the U.S. More on paper recycling.
View Chart ("U.S. Paper Recovery.pdf")
AluminumRecovery of aluminum for recycling has dropped from a high of 68% in 1992 to just over 53% in 2002. While aluminum recovery has fluctuated, it has a long history of recycling primarily because recycled aluminum provides significant energy savings compared to the use of virgin raw materials (mainly the ore bauxite).
Although aluminum is a nonrenewable resource, it can be recycled indefinitely. Recycled cans are melted into ingots weighing up to 60,000 pounds-enough aluminum to make 1.6 million new cans. It takes 60 days for a can to journey from the recycling bin through the recycling process and back on store shelves.

Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy needed to produce new aluminum from raw materials. Energy saved from recycling one ton of aluminum is equal to the amount of electricity the average home uses over 10 years. The value of aluminum also typically covers the cost for its collection and reprocessing. Recyclers paid nearly $1 billion for aluminum beverage cans in 2002.
Besides cans, other aluminum products that can be recycled include foil wrap, food cans, pie plates, frozen food trays, lawn chair tubing, storm door and window frames, residential siding, and auto parts. Get more facts.
View Chart ("Aluminum Can Recycling.xls")
SteelThe steel industry recycled nearly 68% of steel scrap from recycled cans, automobiles, appliances, construction material, and other steel products in 2001. Some communities even recycle empty aerosol cans.
Recovered steel is remelted and used to produce new steel products. A minimum of 25% recycled steel goes in to packaging, car bodies, appliances, and steel framing. Products such as railroad ties and bridge spans use virtually 100% recycled steel.
· Cans - 58% of steel cans were recycled in 2001. More than 200 million Americans have access to steel can recycling through curbside, drop-off, and buy-back programs.
· Appliances - In 2001, 85% of steel from appliances were recycled at nearly 12,000 appliance recycling locations in the U.S.
· Automobiles - More than 14.5 million cars were recycled in 2001, a little more than the number of new cars produced.
· Construction - It is estimated that half of all steel used to reinforce buildings and 95% of structural beams and plates are recycled.
Learn more from the Steel Recycling Institute .
View Chart (Steel Can Recycling.xls)
PlasticsPlastic products account for 11.1% of all municipal solid waste generated in the U.S. In 2001, 5.5% of it was recovered. About 10% of plastic containers and packaging were recovered, mostly soft drink, milk, and water bottles.
Two of the most widely used forms of plastic, PET (Polyethylene termpephthalate) and HDPE (high density polyethylene), are also the most recycled. PET bottles (soda, water) and HDPE bottles (milk, laundry detergent) are commonly collected in community recycling programs.In 1999, 23.8% of HDPE and 22.8% of PET bottles were recycled. Most of the PET bottles (56%) are used in the manufacture of fiber for carpet and clothing. And, 29% of HDPE bottles go back into making new bottles.
In 2001, more than 452 million pounds of polystyrene were recycled back into foam egg cartons, lunch trays, transport packaging, and audio and videocassette cases. Polystyrene foodservice packaging (like clamshells) is not generally recycled because it is not economically sustainable.Polystyrene, HDPE, PET and other varieties of plastic all have different properties, so they must be separated to be used as a raw material for new products. The differences between varieties of plastic may not be readily apparent when comparing containers visually.
To help consumers assess the type of plastic, the society of the Plastics Industry developed a uniform coding system which identifies the type of resin used in plastic packaging (like bottles, packages, etc.). These "plastic codes" now appear on most forms of plastic packaging. Learn more about plastic recycling .

GlassGlass that has been collected for recycling is called cullet. Glass container manufacturers recycle cullet, combined with soda ash, limestone and sand, to create "new" glass. In 2001, glass made up 5.5% of the municipal solid waste stream by weight, and of that, about 22% of glass containers were recycled.
Using recycled glass to make new glass packaging reduces consumption of raw materials, extends the life of plant equipment, such as furnaces, and saves energy.
It is best to sort glass by color (clear, green, and amber), as mixed glass has little or no value to container manufacturers. Materials to keep out of the glass recycling mix includes ceramic cups and plates, clay pots, drinking glasses, light bulbs, and mirror and window glass. These items are not recyclable and contaminate a batch of cullet.

Scrap TiresAbout 281 million scrap tires were generated in 2001, around one tire for every American. There are at least another 300 million scrap tires in stockpiles in the U.S. according to the U.S. EPA . Tires represent 1.8% of solid waste generated.

Finding a market for scrap tires has been a persistent problem. In 1990 markets existed for only 17% of scrap tires. Today, there are markets for almost 78% or 218 million tons. The rest are stockpiled or landfilled. Many states restrict them from landfills, which has encouraged the development of new uses for scrap tires. To date, 30 states collect disposal fees on tires to help fund scrap tire management and market development.

According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association , in 2001, 33 million scrap tires were recycled and used in rubberized asphalt, 40 million were used as an alternative to rock in civil engineering projects, and 115 million for fuel in cement kilns and pulp and paper mills. The rest were exported or stamped into new products.

To keep your tires out of the waste stream, consider retreading them.
View Chart ("Tire Recovery 2-16-04.xls")

Cell PhonesCell phone use has grown from 340,000 in 1985 to 128 million in 2001, according to a study by the environmental research group, INFORM..
Most phones are used an average of 18 months before being replaced. The study estimates that by 2005 about 130 million cell phones, weighing approximately 65,000 tons, will be discarded annually in the U.S. Before being disposed of, many will be stashed in homes and offices, creating a stockpile of roughly 500 million wireless phones.

A typical wireless phone consists of 40% metals, 40% plastics, and 20% ceramics and other trace materials. Much of this is recoverable, including the batteries. Wireless phones also contain a number of toxic materials, such as lead and brominated flame retardants, which are released into the environment when they are disposed of in a landfill or incinerator.
In the past few years, wireless phone manufacturers and other groups have begun to establish reuse and recycling options for cell phone recovery:
· The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association is helping establish cell phone recycling.
· AT&T Wireless accepts cell phones and accessories, regardless of the manufacturer, at any AT&T Wireless retail store for recycling.
· CollectiveGood reuses donated cell phones in the developing world (usually Latin America or the Caribbean).
· Charitable Recycling reuses and recovers cell phones.
Computers and Other ElectronicsThe U.S. EPA estimates that more than 3.2 million tons of electronics are landfilled each year. Computers are typically discarded about every 3 to 5 years. By 2005, nearly 250 million computers are expected to become obsolete.

In 2001, 11% of personal computers were recycled, including recovery of steel, glass, plastic, and precious metals. According to E-Scrap News, more than 1,000 U.S. communities now provide some kind of electronics recycling (periodic events, drop-off, or door-to-door collection). Communities may charge a collection fee.

About 50 new e-scrap processing firms were established in the U.S. in 2003. According to the International Association of Electronics Recyclers e-scrap reclaimers employ 7,000 in processing 40 million electronics products annually.
· Get " Ten Tips for Donating your Computer.”
· Get information on the U.S. EPA's Plug in to E-cycling campaign .
· For consumer information on electronics recycling and reuse opportunities, visit the Consumer Education Initiative .
· Dell and Best Buy have also established electronics collection programs.
The Cost of RecyclingWaste management, including recycling, has costs. In general, recycling costs include:
· Collection and transportation - costs to collect and transport recyclables from households, schools, businesses, and institutions represent the bulk of recycling costs. These are generally paid by taxes, fees, or subscription charges. To offset these costs, communities may not collect items they can't easily market, reduce the number of collection days, employ different or fewer collection vehicles, or change the method of collection.
· Separation and recovery - Once recyclables get to the materials processing facility (called a "MRF"), they must be separated to remove contaminants, sorted, and baled. Processing recyclables is costly and critical to ensure a high-quality, marketable end products. Many recyclables are sorted by hand as they go along a conveyor belt. But some products can be processed using magnetic separators, screens and eddy current separation.
· Contamination - The market value of recyclables is significantly reduced when they are "contaminated" by food, hazardous materials, dirt, broken glass, and other unrecyclables. Materials may also be contaminated if they are mixed with other types of recyclables. Removing contaminants also raises processing costs. This is why there are local guidelines for what materials are collected and how they are "set out".
Recycling Collection TrendsCurbside means that recyclable materials are regularly collected from each home at or near "the curb". What materials are collected, and how they are contained and "set out" is determined by each city or county program. In 2001, about half of the U.S. population was served by over 9,700 curbside collection programs, an increase of about 5% since 2000.

Single-stream is the latest collection trend. It means recyclables are set out for collection commingled in one container rather than separating recyclables in two or more containers.
Some industries, such as paper manufacturers, have concerns that this type of collection increases the likelihood that recyclables will be "contaminated" with food, dirt, hazardous materials, broken glass, and other nonrecyclables. Glass manufacturers are also concerned about contamination and glass breakage. A few communities that use single-stream collect glass separately from the commingled recyclables.

Communities may choose this option because it is simpler for residents, which may increase participation and the amount of recyclables collected. This collection method, however, usually increases contamination. Communities are still determining whether it is cost effective. Learn more.

Drop-off or "convenience centers" are locations in a community where recyclables are accepted for collection. Residents are responsible to take materials to these facilities. Communities that have curbside collection may also have drop-off for certain types of recyclables. Learn more about the value of drop-off recycling.

One-time events or recycling drives are annual or periodic collection events for recyclables such as electronics, paint, household hazardous waste, and phone books. Find out more about how these work.

Buy-back programs are those where residents receive cash or vouchers that can be redeemed at retail stores in exchange for specific recyclables. For example, manufacturers may want old appliances, toner cartridges, or other items for which they will pay a specified amount. In some cases, such as the Chicago Public Housing Buy-Back Recycling Program, residents collect many types of recyclables and are paid market value for these materials.

Refundable deposit programs , sometimes called "bottle bills", are in place in 11 states (CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, ME, MA, MI, NY, OR, VT). Materials like plastic, glass, and aluminum are collected for recycling through a refundable deposit program. Essentially consumers pay a deposit on designated beverage containers at the time of purchase (typically 5 or 10 cents). The deposit is refunded when containers are returned to an appropriate outlet, such as a retailer or a buy-back center.

Recycling and ContaminationFor recycled materials to compete with products made from natural resources like petroleum or trees, they must measure up in terms of quality, performance, and economics. This is much more difficult when recycled materials are contaminated with even small amounts of residue. While most recyclables are processed to remove contaminants, large amounts still make their way to the manufacturer creating costs along the way.

In some manufacturing processes, such as paper recycling, even small amounts of contamination (adhesives, broken glass, dirt, etc.) may ruin an entire run, cause machinery to breakdown or to wear out. Contamination is also a concern in glass recycling. While processing equipment at a materials recycling facility (or "MRF") can remove some contaminants from glass, ceramics (clay coffee-mugs, plates, dishes, etc.), which are not easily removed, can ruin a batch of cullet.

Contamination is the reason many communities are strict about what materials are accepted in a recycling program and how these materials are to be prepared for collection. Increased contamination lowers the value of recyclables, increasing costs and decreasing revenues for communities.

Buying RecycledBuying recycled is often referred to as "closing the loop". When consumers purchase products or packaging made from recycled materials they help to encourage a market for those products. Local, state, and federal governments may promote buying recycled products through purchasing programs and "green" guidelines.

Products and packaging that contain recycled materials often indicate this on the label or display the recycling symbol . Many everyday products, however, do not carry the symbol, but still contain recycled content. The U.S. EPA estimates there are 4,500 recycled-content products available. These include items like cereal boxes, paper towels, carpeting, aluminum cans, newspaper, glass containers, detergent bottles, and motor oil. Learn more about identifying recycled-content products.

Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention
Cigarette litter is a serious challenge for communities across the U.S. Individuals who would never litter beverage cans or paper packaging typically do not consider tossing cigarette butts on the ground littering.

Dropping partially-smoked cigarettes, cigarette butts, matches, lighters, and packaging to the ground, however, is littering. Lack of awareness, lack of ash receptacles, and the increase of smoking outdoors all contribute to the growing amount of cigarette litter.

Keep America Beautiful, the nation's largest nonprofit community improvement organization, has developed the "Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention," to combat this problem. In the "Guide," Keep America Beautiful shares knowledge, solutions and tools that government, businesses or individuals can put to use to reduce cigarette litter in their communities.

Cigarette litter is an emerging litter problem in America.Research shows that individuals who would never consider littering an aluminum can, a piece of paper or other items may be littering cigarette butts. They may be surprised to be called litterers. But dropping partially-smoked cigarettes, cigarette butts, matches, lighters and packaging to the ground is littering. These items become litter when not disposed of properly. Cigarette litter is an emerging litter problem in communities around the country. Lack of awareness, lack of ash receptacles, and the increase of outdoor smoking add to the visible impact of cigarette litter.
Cigarette litter is an environmental problem for any community. The cigarette filter is cellulose acetate, a man-made fiber spun to look like cotton thread. These fibers break down very slowly, sometimes taking years. Cellulose acetate may degrade in time, but it is not biodegradable. One research report states that 18 percent of all litter dropped to the ground is washed into streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean by stormwater runoff. Cigarette butts are little and lightweight —they are easily carried with this runoff into our waterways. As the wind and rain carry it along, it catches in flower gardens, grass and open spaces. That’s when children, our pets, and wildlife find it. The fibers in a cigarette filter and the remaining tobacco contain several residual alkaloids, including nicotine, posing a health problem for wildlife when ingested. Did you know that birds may use it for nesting and even think it's food?

Cigarette litter represents over 20 percent of the litter collected in many community cleanup initiatives.
The Ocean Conservancy's annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) addresses the most littered items by publishing a "Top 10 List." Cigarette litter was at the top of the list after the 2003 cleanup, outstripping the next item on the list by three to one.

The data shown here comes from the ICC 2003 report.
Other than aesthetic and environmental challenges posed by cigarette litter in our communities, cleaning up cigarette litter is an increasing challenge. The size of cigarette litter makes cigarette litter cleanups very difficult to quantify as part of the actual cost of regular maintenance.
The cost of litter removal and, more specifically, cigarette litter removal in communities, parks and public spaces, and local roadways, in each state is not easily calculated. Most communities report the cost of maintenance as a single number and the cost of litter removal is not identified.

In many cases, individual business owners assume responsibility for cigarette litter cleanup adjacent to entrances and on their business property. Keep America Beautiful works with community volunteers to clean up litter and illegal dumping, and to make sustainable improvements neighborhood by neighborhood.Research shows that smokers will litter cigarette butts, lighters, matches and packaging material if an ash receptacle is not readily available. Keep America Beautiful identified problems with combination ash/trash receptacles. Ash/trash receptacles may be easily cross-contaminated with paper and other trash. This discourages a smoker from using the receptacle for their cigarette. Trash or ash/trash receptacles are used to snub-out burning cigarettes and then the cigarettes become litter when they're dropped around the base of a trash receptacle.

Research also shows that cigarette litter occurs at Transition Points. Transition Points are those places where a person must discontinue smoking before proceeding. A bus stop, a store entrance, building loading docks, walkways leading to government buildings and similar places are the Transition Points in a neighborhood. Are you a smoker? Please use ashtrays, pocket ashtrays and ash receptacles when you are outside. Before you begin to smoke outside, look for the receptacle you'll use when you finish smoking. Do NOT throw butts in stormdrains. While you may think it keeps them from causing a fire, there is a problem if cigarette litter enters our waterways! Always carry a pocket ashtray when you are away from traditional ashtrays and outdoor ash receptacles. If you use your car's ashtray for coins and keys, please use a portable ashtray that fits in your car’s cupholder and do NOT throw butts out car windows. This creates litter on the streets; recent wildfires in our country have been directly attributed to littered cigarette butts.Do you own or manage a business with a “no smoking” policy? Please provide employees and visitors with ash receptacles at all entry points to your business. These Transition Points are the places smokers need to discard their cigarettes before entering your business. Once installed, these ash receptacles need to be monitored and maintained regularly. Smokers will become accustomed to using these receptacles and you may need to add more to control the cigarette litter.

Are you a resident who is interested in addressing this problem? Identify other stakeholders who care about your neighborhood and your community. These individuals should represent businesses, local government and neighborhood organizations. They will become members of your Cigarette Litter Prevention Team. At the beginning of 2005, our Web site will have information about the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program. It will be a valuable program your team can use to improve your community.

U.S. Top Ten Litter Items
1. Cigarette butts
2. Bags/food wrappers
3. Caps, lids
4. Beverage bottles (glass)
5. Beverage cans
6. Cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons
7. Beverage bottles (plastic)2 liters or less
8. Straws, stirrers
9. Fast-food containers
10. Cigar tips


Top Ten Tips for Preventing Litter
Set an example by not littering. Carry a litter bag in your car or put litter in your pocket until you find a container.
Pick up one piece of litter every day.
Teach others the proper way to dispose of their trash. Show them the difference between a clean area and an atea spoiled by litter, and stress why it’s important to put trash in proper containers.
Make sure that your trash cans have lids that can be securely attached. If you have curbside trash service, don’t put out open containers or boxes filled with trash.
Ask your neighbors to join you in cleaning up one public area where litter has accumulated. Ask your local Department of Public Works to become involved by collecting the bags of litter, or by waiving the disposal fee at the landfill or solid waste facility.
Tie papers in a bundle before placing them in a curbside recycling bin. Loose papers can be blown out by the wind as can other recyclables.
If you or a member of your family is involved in a civic group, scouting, or recreational sports program, encourage that group to become involved in a cleanup. In some communities, groups can earn cash by separating recyclable products from litter and redeeming them. Or have the group “adopt” a spot and maintain it on a regular basis.
Find out how you can plant and maintain flowers along a curb or sidewalk. People litter less where areas have been beautified.
Ask business owners to check their dumpsters evey day to make sure tops and side doors are closed. If the business has a loading dock, ask them to keep it clean, and to put out a receptacle for employees to use.
If you own a construction or hauling business, make sure your trucks are covered when transporting material to and from sites. Use snow fencing around construction or demolition sites to prevent debris from being blown into other areas. Put trash containers on every floor for construction workers.

The most successful way to prevent littering in your community is to have an ongoing, organized program that involves local government, business, civic groups, the media, schools, and private citizens.

Following are the some tips for preventing litter:

· Sometimes changing attitudes means changing the way things have always been done. Use local ordinances to get a community back on track.
· If the ordinances are all there, maybe there’s just no enforcement initiatives in place. Everyone needs to be involved—from citizens to the courts.
· Start by getting the facts. Measure the impact of litter in the community using Keep America Beautiful’s one-of-a-kind measurement tools .
· Citizens can create long-lasting change. Empower neighborhood groups and other volunteers to take pride and ownership in their neighborhoods, parks, and roadways. It all starts with a cleanup.
· Keep it on the front page. Use public awareness campaigns to educate and get out the message—again and again.
· Solid waste can be litter too. Keep solid waste where it belongs: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
· It’s not done until it’s green. Beautify and create green spaces to energize the spirit, foster respect for nature, and bring the community together.

Five-Step Attitude Change Process
1. Get the FactsResearch the littering problem (or other community improvement issue) in your community, and gather information from the Litter Index and the Litter/Solid Waste Survey. Interview field professionals and leadership. Assemble all pertinent data in writing.
2. Involve the PeopleIdentify the people who have the most influence over this particular issue. Let them know what you would like to do. Find how it can match their own interests, and capitalize on their interest in developing the program. Let them involve people they know or with whom they work. The volunteer network will spread. Delegation is the key.
3. Plan SystematicallyOnce the leadership and other key individuals are in agreement, develop a plan of action. Utilizing effective management techniques, the group commits to this plan of action with the aid of Keep America Beautiful programs and resource guides.

Focus on ResultsYour goal will be to achieve measurable results in litter reduction. All activities and projects should be planned programs designed to target and change negative attitudes and practices.

After source reduction, recycling, and composting, a large portion of municipal solid waste must still be placed in landfills. In 2001 55.7% of municipal solid waste was landfilled or about 3.10 pounds per person per day. This is down from 56.4% in 2000.

A landfill is where garbage is deposited and then buried. Properly managed landfills are an environmentally safe means of disposal, and are closely monitored for their environmental impact by the U.S. EPA as well as state and local authorities.

Over the past ten years, the number of landfills has decreased from about 8,000 in 1988 to 1,858 in 2001. Many landfills closed because they could not meet federal environmental standards. The size of the average landfill, however, has increased. Current landfill capacity is stable, although some communities may face shortages.

Landfill StandardsMunicipal solid waste landfills are regulated under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act passed by Congress in 1976. In 1991, the U.S. EPA published a supplemental set of
Landfill Rules which now serve as the basis for state regulatory and permitting requirement. New landfills may also collect potentially harmful landfill gas emissions, such as methane, and convert them into energy.

Because today's landfills need to operate with unquestioned safety and efficiency, it often can take five or more years from the time a site is selected until design, permit application, and public hearings are completed and the facility is built.

How a Landfill OperatesA typical landfill is divided into a series of sections called "cells." Solid waste is placed on what is called a "working face," which is a portion of a landfill cell that is currently available to accept this material. Only limited sites in a landfill are exposed at any given time to minimize exposure of the landfill's contents to environmental elements like wind and rain. Because a landfill is filled so systematically, landfill operators may be able to pinpoint where a specific load of garbage was deposited days, weeks, or even months afterward.

At the conclusion of each day's activity in a cell, a layer of earth (sometimes ash or compost), called "daily cover” is spread across the compacted waste to minimize odor, prevent windblown litter, and deter insect and vermin. The daily cover may also consist of a layer of foam or sheets of synthetic materials. The landfill operator moves from work face to work face, and from cell to cell as the landfill gradually reaches its capacity over periods of many years, even decades.
Click here for a large image
Environmental SafeguardsRain, snow, and liquids created by the compaction and decomposition of solid waste, which can seep through a landfill cell, is called "leachate." Leachate is a potential pollutant of surface waters (lakes, rivers, streams, or oceans) or groundwater, which is the source of most drinking water.

A protective liner is used to prevent filtration of liquid from the landfill. Liners may be made of compacted clay or impermeable materials such as plastic. When clay is used, the layer may be as much as ten feet thick. This site preparation is done so that any liquid entering the landfill can be controlled and treated externally, or retained inside the landfill, rather than being permitted to pass through.

Beyond protective liners, modern landfills include multiple safeguards to contain leachate and other waste and waste byproducts and isolate them from surrounding water and soil. To prevent leachate contamination, a network of drains is installed at the bottom of the landfill to collect the liquid that has percolated through the solid waste. Leachate is then pumped to waste water recovery points for treatment.

Groundwater monitoring wells are also installed around the perimeter of the landfill to ensure that surrounding groundwater is not contaminated with leachate. Should a liner system fail by breaking or deteriorating, leak detectors installed under the liners signal the presence of leachate, allowing corrective action to prevent any movement of leachate from the landfill toward nearby ground or surface waters.

Landfills and Gas EmissionsGases emanating from the landfill are also closely monitored and controlled. As the organic portion of waste (e.g. food and yard wastes) decomposes, large amounts of methane gas and carbon dioxide are produced. Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Air Act, landfill operators are required to monitor gas both on the surface and around the boundaries of landfills.
As cells to the landfill are sealed off, venting systems are installed to prevent methane from diffusing under ground, and to collect any gas released and burn it off. In many cases, energy is recovered from the combustion of the gases to be used on site or sold to local homes or businesses.

Closing a LandfillWhen a landfill has reached its capacity, it is required to close consistent with U.S. EPA "final cap" environmental requirements. A final layer of clay and dirt "cap" the landfill. It is then re-landscaped according to closure plans drawn up in accordance with the community. This process is planned many years in advance.

To be granted a license to operate, a landfill operator must have a complete plan for the site's eventual closure. The operator is also required to set aside the financial resources which will be necessary for all closure, post-closure, and corrective activity which may be needed over the lifetime of the landfill.
Once a landfill is capped, operators are obligated to monitor the site for gas and leachate for up to 30 years after the closure date. They are often involved in the ongoing efforts to reclaim the land for other uses. Landfills can end up as open space for communities to use as parks, or other recreational facilities. Building any permanent structure on landfills is less common because, as solid waste decomposes in the landfill, the entire landscape can settle.

Click to see larger image

Waste-to-energy (WTE) is when municipal solid waste is burned in a controlled environment to create steam or electricity. Through this process the volume of solid waste is reduced by about 90%. In 2003, there were 98 WTE plants operating in 29 states. WTE was used to manage 33.6 million tons, or 14.7%, of trash in the U.S in 2001.

Energy is sold to electric generating utilities which distribute it to local homes and businesses. WTE plants in the U.S. generate enough electricity to power nearly 2.3 million homes. Energy created in a WTE facility has about the same environmental impact as energy produced from natural gas, and less impact than from oil or coal plants.

Before combustion, recyclables can be removed. Each year nearly 800,000 tons of ferrous metals and more than 900,000 tons of glass, metal, plastics, batteries, ash, and yard waste are separated out for recycling.

Primary WTE Technology Options

Mass Burn
Modular Incinerators
Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF)
Ash Management
Waste-to-energy generation produces two types of ash:
· Bottom Ash includes both large and moderate-sized unburned and unburnable matter which remains after the municipal solid waste has passed through the furnace, or combustion chamber. This ash comprises 75-90% of all ash produced through WTE, depending on the technology employed.
· Fly Ash is a powdery material suspended in the gas stream which is collected in the pollution control equipment. It tends to have higher concentrations of metals and organic materials.
Bottom ash and fly ash are usually combined when collected to facilitate storage, handling, and transportation. A benefit of combining them is that it binds metal particles to other materials, reducing the potential that these metals will leach into ground water once they are disposed.

By law, all ash is tested in accordance with U.S. EPA rules before leaving the WTE facility to ensure it is safe for disposal or beneficial reuse. According to Integrated Waste Services Association , ash from WTE facilities can be used safely and beneficially. WTE ash is sometimes used as daily and final cover for landfills. It can also provide a substitute for the aggregate in road base materials, and be used in building construction and as part of artificial offshore reefs.

Primary WTE Technology Options
Mass Burn
Mass burn is combusting municipal solid waste without any pre-processing or separation. The resulting steam is employed for industrial uses or for generating electricity. Mass burn facilities are sized according to the daily amount of solid waste they expect to receive. Most mass burn plants can remove non-combustible steel and iron for recycling before combustion using magnetic separation processes. Other non-ferrous metals can be recovered from the leftover ash.

Modular Incinerators
Modular incinerators are small mass burn plants, with a capacity of 15 to 100 tons per day. The boilers for modular incinerators are built in a factory and shipped to the WTE site, rather than being built on the WTE site itself. The advantage of a modular WTE incinerator is flexibility. For example, if more capacity is needed, modular WTE units can be added. These facilities are used primarily by small communities and industrial sites. Costs limit the use of this technology because the return on investment in terms of energy produced over time is much lower than in mass burn plants.

Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF)
RDF plants process solid waste before it is burned. A typical plant will remove non-combustible items, such as glass, metals and other recyclable materials. The remaining solid waste is then shredded into smaller pieces for burning. RDF plants require significantly more sorting and handling than mass burn, but can recover recyclables and remove potentially environmentally harmful materials prior to combustion. RDF can be burned in power boilers at factories or even at large housing complexes.
Sometimes RDF materials are "densified" (compacted at high pressure) to make fuel pellets. The "pellet fuel" may also include various sludges, by-products of municipal or industrial sewage treatment plants. A major advantage of pellet fuel as an RDF is that it can be burned along with other kinds of fuel in existing power boilers. This means RDF pellet fuels can compete with traditional fuels, such as coal, on the open market.

Creating Green Spaces
Urban ForestsPublic green spaces bring the community together, beautify the surroundings, and naturally clean the environment. Check out these programs to encourage and establish community green spaces.

Community GardensThe American Community Gardening Association estimates there are about 150,000 community gardens in the U.S. Gardens can reclaim property, serve as a neighborhood gathering place, and plant seeds of hope.

Parks And Green SpacesParks and other city green spaces translate into tangible economic and social benefits. They increase property values, make a city more livable, and improve citizen satisfaction. How does your city rate?

Building Challenge
Sustainable, or "green," building is gaining momentum as more professionals recognize a tremendous opportunity to prevent waste, recover materials, and conserve resources. Sustainable building projects incorporate energy, water, and material efficiencies into design, construction, operation, and demolition. The WasteWise Building Challenge focuses on reducing, reusing, and recycling construction and demolition (C&D) debris. Whether you are renovating office space or building a new production plant, consider the savings associated with resource-efficient construction. For additional information about the Challenge program, visit the WasteWise Challenge page.

Since the Building Challenge inception in 2002, 23 WasteWise partners pledged to reduce, reuse, and recycle C&D debris. At the 2003 Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony, WasteWise recognized Genzyme Corporation, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and Seattle University for their efforts towards the Building Challenge.

Reducing Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris
Reducing, reusing, and recycling C&D debris can cut overall project expenses by avoiding disposal and purchasing costs, generating revenue from the sale of materials, and creating opportunities for tax breaks through material donations. Other benefits include conserving landfill space, avoiding the environmental effects of manufacturing new building products, and enhancing your organization's public image.

Similarly, purchasing recycled building products can help improve markets for recyclables, enhance your public image, and help federal agencies and their contractors meet the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines mandates.

How can my company reduce, reuse, and recycle C&D debris?
Incorporate environmental specifications into your building contracts and guidelines.
Develop standard operating procedures for C&D reuse and recycling at your construction site.
Rehabilitate an existing structure in place of planned demolition.
Use deconstruction techniques rather than demolition if a building must be torn down.
Employ efficient framing to reduce the amount of lumber used without sacrificing structural integrity.
Invest in durable products to ensure that materials last as long as possible.
Return unused construction material to vendors.
Consider the end-of-life management, or recyclability, of building products at the start of a project.
Salvage C&D waste for sale and reuse.
Purchase recycled-content building materials including insulation, carpet, cement, paint, floor tiles, shower and restroom dividers, laminated paperboard, and structural fiberboard.
What resources do you have to help my company reduce C&D debris?
Visit the Building Challenge resources page for useful Web sites, publications, articles, and trade associations. In addition, check out the WasteWise Update: Building for the Future.[PDF, 2.2 MB]
How do I join the Building Challenge?
Contact the WasteWise Helpline at (800) EPA-WISE (372-9473) to participate in the Building Challenge.


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