How to Reduce Trash

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Every day in the United States we generate over 4 ½ lbs of trash per person. That amounts to 230 million tons of garbage that fills our landfills each year. By taking steps to reduce trash at home and at the office, we can protect the earth and save money.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand towels
  • Compost bins
  • Take down your paper towel rack. Invest in some plush hand towels, and save old socks or torn t-shirts for cleaning. Keep one emergency roll of paper towels in the back of the pantry for emergencies only.

  • Start a compost bin. Yard trimmings do not readily break down in landfills due to lack of sunlight and air. You need not invest in a fancy bin; assemble one from four pallets and some wire. Keep scraps in your freezer until you're ready to make a trip to the bin. Apartment dwellers can keep a worm compost bin indoors.

  • Make lunch a waste free event. Avoid products with excessive packaging, like processed cheese slices. Save old bread bags and food tubs to be used for packing lunches. If you use brown lunch bags, they can be composted. If you use plastic grocery sacks, recycle them.

  • Explore the thrift shops and consignment stores in your area. You are not truly recycling unless you purchase recycled goods, including clothes, appliances and furniture. Remember to contribute your unwanted goods to these organizations as well.

  • Learn about the freecycling movement. This movement consists of individual groups of people that give things away they no longer want. Freecycling keeps items out of the trash and keeps dollars in your pocket.

  • Reduce office paper waste. Use both sides of the paper, print only the pages of a document you need and recycle office paper. Your local waste management office can help you start a recycling program if there isn't one already in place.

  • Tame the excess of gift giving during holidays and special occasions. Unwanted gifts and their accompanying packaging and gift wrap often end up in the trash. Give certificates good for a class, permit or membership. Give homemade baked goods or hand-knit items. Gift bags can be reused several times before they are discarded.

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