Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Reduce the trash you generate: Pledge to use a reusable lunch kit.
The amount of waste each person creates has almost doubled from 2.7 to 4.4 pounds per day over the past 35 years, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Reducing waste is key to protecting our environment. Reduction of solid waste:
- Saves energy. Manufacturing goods from recycled materials typically requires less energy than producing goods from virgin materials. When people reuse goods or when products are made with less material, less energy is needed to extract, transport, and process raw materials and to manufacture products.
- Reduces the need for landfills and incineration.
- Prevents pollution caused by the extraction and processing of virgin materials and the manufacture of products using virgin materials.
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
- Diverts organic wastes from landfills, reducing the methane that would be released if these materials decomposed in a landfill.
- Allows more trees to remain standing in the forest where they can continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Recycling aluminum cans, for example, saves 95 percent of the energy required to make the same amount of aluminum from its virgin source, bauxite. The amount of energy saved differs by material, but almost all recycling processes achieve significant energy savings compared to production using virgin materials. In 2005, recycling is conservatively estimated to have saved over 900 trillion BTUs, equal to the annual energy use of 9 million households.
Shrink your "Waste-Line"
The most effective way to reduce waste is to prevent waste in the first place. Easy ways to reduce your waste are to purchase fewer products in general and to choose products with less packaging.
Also, instead of discarding unwanted items or buying dozens of plastic tubs to stow away things that will probably never be seen or used again, find new homes for your possessions. For example, sell belongings on eBay, hold a garage sale, or give to a charity sale or thrift shop so someone else can enjoy your unwanted treasures. Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) offers solutions to disposing of belongings that someone else would want.
Resolve to Reuse
Another way to keep belongings out of the waste stream is to find new uses for them, like using empty jars or containers to store leftover food or to organize small items, such as arts and craft supplies or nuts and bolts.
Choosing reusable items that can be used again and again instead of disposable supplies that end up in landfills is another way to reduce waste, according to the Association of NJ Environmental Associations, a statewide nonprofit organization that supports the efforts of municipalities to protect the environment and promote sustainable land use.
- Carry your own durable coffee mug instead of buying coffee in disposable cups;
- Take reusable bags along when shopping;
- Double-side printing or reuse the back side of single-sided papers;
- Use washable cloth napkins or dish towels instead of paper towels and napkins;
- Buy grains, beans and pasta in bulk and store them in reusable containers; and
- Fill reusable containers with tap water instead of buying water in disposable plastic bottles.
Recycle instead of trash
When there’s no choice but to discard an item, take advantage of all recycling options so that the raw materials can be recovered and used to make other products. We are fortunate to have convenient recycling options in Millburn. From curbside pick-up to the township recycling yard, there are many options to dispose of recyclable paper and commingled containers instead of throwing away as trash.
Rebuy recycled material products
Buying products made from recycled material closes the loop and helps support recycle markets. For example, you can buy a baseball bat made from recycled aluminum or a fleece jacket made from recycled plastic bottles. Make this the year to switch to recycled content paper for your business cards and stationary and even for your toilet paper and other paper products.