The easiest, most direct way for you to make a difference is to watch what you buy and throw away. You can do this by following these basic principles:
- Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash you discard.
- Reuse containers and products; repair what is broken; and give unneeded items to those who can use them.
- Recycle as much as possible and buy products with recycled content.
There are lots of ways that you can put the 3 R’s into practice in your day. Many of them are not difficult to do, won't take up a lot of time and won't cost more – in fact, they may even save you money!
Remember that less waste can translate into more jobs, a stronger economy, energy conservation, less pollution, extended lives for existing landfills, a reduced need for new landfills, and the preservation of our natural resources.
In Your Home
- Buy groceries in bulk and avoid items with excess packaging.
- Recycle everything that you can. See the Kansas
Recycling Directory for options available in your area.
- Instead of using plastic bags at the store, invest in a set of reusable canvas shopping bags. These can be purchased
at Dillons, Walmart, or your local grocery store.
- Donate unwanted items such as clothing, furniture, and kitchen items to thrift stores, the Salvation Army, or
- Start a backyard compost bin. See the Home Compost Guide
to get started.
- Stop junk mail. See www.newdream.org/junkmail.
- Cut back on disposables. Use real dishes, tableware, and napkins whenever possible, pack a
waste free lunch, and opt for
a reusable travel mug or water bottle. You may even get a discount on refills at places like Starbucks.
At Your School
Can you think of ways that you and fellow students could reduce and reuse at school? Maybe it's
something that the student union or the library could do differently. Your teachers will be the first
ones to tell you that just because it's always been done that way‚ it is not a good reason to
keep doing something if you can think of and suggest a better way. Be creative! See the
Kansas Green Schools website
for information, tools, and resources to help you get started.
At Your Office
See the Green Business and Organization website for tools and information to start a recycling and waste reduction program in your office.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in the Workplace
- Double sided photocopying.
- Don’t use disposable containers.
- E-mail and bulletin boards instead of separate memos to everyone.
- Make sure your business cards have your e-mail address on them, and request the
e-mail addresses of your contacts.
- Keep mailing lists current to avoid duplication. Ask to be removed from unwanted mailing lists.
- Use postcards when appropriate to save paper, envelopes, and postage.
- Eliminate unnecessary forms and redesign to use less paper.
- Edit documents on the screen before printing.
- Use a transmittal stamp or a small fax sticky note instead of a separate cover sheet for faxes.
- Use smaller typeface, margins, single spacing, and rigorous editing to keep documents small.
- Use plain white paper whenever possible. Dyed paper produces dioxin, which was the
primary toxic component of Agent Orange.
- Use half-sized sheets when possible.
- Save documents on disk instead of making hard copies.
- Bring your own coffee mug to work.
- If you have a water cooler use a glass or your mug instead of the cups.
- Bring litter-less lunches: No disposables - reusable containers only.
- Purchase a reusable coffee filter for the coffee machine.
- Don’t use straws, paper napkins, and disposable stirring sticks.
- Buy creamer, sugar, and coffee for break areas in bulk containers.
- Set up a car pool notice in the building.
- Make sure that copiers, printers, desk-side lights, and other electric appliances are turned
off when you leave at night. About 81 tons of mercury is emitted into the atmosphere each year as
a result of electric power generation. Mercury is the most toxic heavy metal in existence.
- Send used books and office equipment to a local charity.
- Post a sign informing staff that cardboard boxes are available for their home use.
- Relabel old file folders and use again and again.
- Use outdated letterhead for in-house memos.
- Circulate newspapers and magazines.
- Donate old magazines to hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes.
- Make scratch pads from used paper.
- Place a tray beside the photocopier for one sided paper that can be reused.
- Use inter-office envelopes.
- Use refillable pens and pencils, and reuse paper clips and file folders.
- Buy and use remanufactured printer/toner cartridges.
- Make a recycling container to keep next to your desk.
- Buy materials with recycled content.
- Ensure there are adequate recycling receptacles throughout the building.
- Investigate composting options.
- Place adequate signs above recycling bins describing the materials accepted.
- Set up a suggestion box and designate a person responsible for conveying suggestions to Facilities Management.
In Your Community
Community-wide initiatives can really help encourage waste reduction. For example, in some places, instead
of paying a flat fee, residents pay for each bin or bag of trash they set out for disposal. This lets people
reduce their monthly bills if they are willing to reduce their trash output.
Tips for Starting a Community Recycling Effort
- Talk to your city or county officials about starting an organized community effort.
- Check the KS Recycling Directory www.kansasrecycles.org
for already existing programs in your county or the surrounding area. You will need to find an outlet for
the materials you collect.
- Contact with your local waste haulers. They may be willing to collaborate with you on your project.
- Consider recruiting local service organizations to help with collection and transportation of materials.
- Consider the different collection options including holding collection drives and setting up drop-off locations.
- Advertise your program through the local newspaper, civic organizations, and at local businesses and schools.
- Check these websites for more information:
EPA: Concerned Citizens
Waste Wise: Recycling Publications
KDHE Get Caught Recycling
Kansas Green Teams
Kansas Organization of Recyclers