Produce Less Waste by Practicing the three Rs:
* Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash you discard.
* Reuse containers and products; repair what is broken or give it to someone who can repair it.
* Recycle as much as possible, which includes buying products with recycled content.
Source reduction, often called waste prevention, means consuming and throwing away less. Source reduction includes purchasing durable, long-lasting goods and seeking products and packaging that are as free of toxics as possible. It can be as complex as redesigning a product to use less raw material in production, have a longer life, or be used again after its original use is completed. Because source reduction actually prevents the generation of waste in the first place, it is the most preferable method of waste management and goes a long way toward protecting the environment.
Reusing items by repairing them, donating them to charity and community groups, or selling them also reduces waste. Use a product more than once, either for the same purpose or for a different purpose. Reusing, when possible, is preferable to recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.
Ways to Reuse
* Using durable coffee mugs.
* Using cloth napkins
* Refilling bottles.
* Donating old magazines or surplus equipment.
* Reusing boxes.
* Turning empty jars into containers for leftover food.
* Purchasing refillable pens and pencils.
* Participating in a paint collection and reuse program.
Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources and generates a host of environmental, financial, and social benefits. After collection, materials (e.g., glass, metal, plastics, and paper) are separated and sent to facilities that can process them into new materials or products.
Recycling is one of the best environmental success stories of the late 20th century. Recycling, including composting, diverted 57 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 1996, up from 34 million tons in 1990—a 67 percent increase in just 6 years. By 1996, more than 7,000 curbside collection programs served roughly half of the American population. Curbside programs, along with drop-off and buy-back centers, resulted in a diversion of 27 percent of the nation^s solid waste.
Benefits of Recycling
* Conserves resources for our children^s future.
* Prevents emissions of many greenhouse gases and water pollutants.
* Saves energy.
* Supplies valuable raw materials to industry.
* Creates jobs.
* Stimulates the development of greener technologies
* Reduces the need for new landfills and incinerators.
You think you have done everything possible in recycling your household, school, or office materials. Deep down, however, you suspect there^s more to recycling than setting out your recyclables at the curb. In order to make recycling economically feasible, we must "buy recycled" products and packaging. When we buy recycled products we create an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, manufactured, and marketed as new products. Buying recycled has both economic and environmental benefits. Purchasing products made from or packaged in recycled materials saves resources for future generations.
Another form of recycling is composting. Composting is the controlled biological decomposition of organic matter, such as food and yard wastes, into humus, a soil-like material. Composting is nature^s way of recycling organic wastes into new soil used in vegetable and flower gardens, landscaping, and many other applications.
Benefits of Composting
* Keeps organic wastes out of landfills.
* Provides nutrients to the soil.
* Increases beneficial soil organisms (e.g., worms and centipedes).
* Suppresses certain plant material.
* Reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
* Protects soils from erosion.
* Assists pollution remediation.
Household Hazardous Waste
Common household items such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides contain hazardous components. One way to help determine if your household waste has hazardous components is to read the labels on products. Labels that read danger, warning, caution, toxic, corrosive, flammable, or poison identify products that might contain hazardous materials. Leftover portions of these products are called household hazardous waste (HHW). These products, if mishandled, can be dangerous to your health and the environment.
Although we cannot completely stop using hazardous products, we can make sure that leftovers are managed properly. The best way to handle HHW is to reduce the amount initially generated by giving leftover products to someone else to use. To deal with household hazardous waste, many communities have set up collection programs to prevent HHW from being disposed of in MSW landfills and combustors. These programs ensure the safe disposal of HHW in facilities designed to treat or dispose of hazardous waste. More than 2,000 HHW collection programs exist in the United States.