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Household Waste Reduction Tips
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- Reduce the amount of packaging you buy, reuse what you
can, and recycle the rest.
- Look for products without packaging - tools, fresh produce,
- Avoid individually wrapped portions (cheese slices, juice,
- Favor products with a high recycled content, even if
they cost a little more.
- Choose concentrated products in reusable containers,
and largest size containers.
- Buy in bulk. Sometimes you can take your own plastic or
other containers to the store to be filled directly with bulk goods.
- Buy frozen foods in plastic bags rather than boxes. A
28-oz. bag of frozen corn is 59% less expensive and results in 98% less
waste than buying the equivalent weight in single-serving 4.5 oz. boxes.
- When purchasing just one or two items, tell the clerk,
"I don't need a bag, thanks."
- Choose rechargeable batteries and long-life bulbs.
- Avoid disposable razors, pens, pencils and lighters.
- Choose long-lasting metal or wood toys rather than plastic.
- Buy recycled paper bathroom tissue, napkins and kitchen
- Take your own mug or thermos to the coffee shop. Some
shops will offer a discounted price when you provide your own container.
- Avoid pump toothpaste - it is over-packaged and includes
- Use your own reusable canvas or string bags when shopping.
- If you do opt for paper or plastic grocery bags, take
them back to the store to be recycled.
- Buy quality products and keep them for a lifetime.
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- Use resealable, reusable containers for lunch and leftovers.
- Install flow-reducing shower heads, faucet aerators and
other fixtures which reduce water consumption. These include automatic
shut-off hose nozzles, water conservation devices for toilet tanks and
dye tablets which can be used to detect leaky toilets.
- Use old toothbrushes and other brushes to clean bathroom
tile, shoes, etc.
- Make an all-purpose cleaner: 1 gallon hot water, 1/4
cup ammonia, 1/4 cup vinegar & 1 tablespoon baking soda. Safe
on most surfaces, rinses off with water.
- Use hot vinegar instead of paint thinner on brushes.
- Make up an inexpensive silver polish: 1 quart warm water,
1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 piece aluminum foil. Soak silver
for 10/15 minutes, wipe with a soft cloth.
- Instead of paper or plastic, use ceramic mugs, cloth
napkins & towels, china plates and silverware.
- Prepare a simple furniture polish with either lemon oil
and beeswax, beeswax and olive oil, or mix 2 teaspoons lemon oil with
one pint mineral oil in a spray bottle.
- If you're in the market for a new washing machine, look
for a front loader. They are more energy efficient than top loaders,
and use only 22-25 gallons per load while top loaders use 40-45 gallons
- Use baking soda to clean sinks, toilet bowls and showers
without harsh chemicals. Also, only a box will be left instead of plastic
- Reuse glass jars to store nails, screws, craft supplies
and other small items in the garage, workshop or sewing room.
- Clean windows and mirrors with a simple solution of 3
tablespoons of white vinegar and two cups of warm water in a spray bottle.
Apply with wadded up newspaper.
- When spring cleaning or moving, have a yard sale or donate
items to charities instead of throwing them away.
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- Make two-sided copies to reduce paper waste by 50%.
- When circulating memos or documents use routing slips,
or better still e-mail.
- Share newspapers and magazines.
- Use the blank side of used paper for scratch paper, then
- Reuse cardboard and paperboard boxes.
- Encourage your office manager to buy or lease fax machines
that use plain paper.
- Use small stick-on fax notes on the first sheet of each
fax and omit cover sheets.
- Use durable products, i.e., china mugs instead of disposable
cups, refillables instead of throw-aways.
- Purchase items that can be used for more than one application.
- Refold and reuse file folders.
- Use reusable envelopes for interoffice mail; reuse envelopes
with metal clasps.
- At meetings or events, use durable/washable tableware
instead of disposables.
- Purchase stationery, scratch pads, business cards, paper
towels, toilet paper and facial tissue made from recycled paper.
- Bring lunch in reusable containers rather than paper
or plastic bags.
- Recycle and use recycled toner cartridges.
- Use recycled yard waste mulch and crumb rubber from recycled
tires in workplace landscaping and parking lots.
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- Halloween - make your own costumes and avoid the disposable
type; use pillow cases or canvas bags instead of plastic for collecting
treats; give out trail mix or small durable toys instead of candy.
- Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah - use reusable metal
baking trays rather than disposable aluminum. Reuse disposable trays
if they are used.
- Buy a live Christmas tree and plant it in your yard after
the holidays, or buy an artificial tree that can be used year after
year. Otherwise, recycle your cut tree into mulch.
- Give live or silk plants rather than cut flowers.
- Use wrapping paper and cards made from recycled paper.
- At picnics, use cloth napkins and table cloths, china,
silverware or reusable plastic.
- Use popcorn instead of Styrofoam peanuts for packaging.
When you receive items packed in peanuts, reuse them yourself or check
if your local mailing/shipping store might want them.
- Reuse wrapping paper, tissue paper and bows.
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- Leave grass clippings on the lawn. This helps to recycle
nutrients (¼ pound of organic nitrogen per bag), does not produce thatch,
and reduces the amount of time and money you spend on lawn care.
- Alternatively, clippings can be mixed with leaves and
brush as a simple mulch to protect the soil, suppress weeds and conserve
- Or, make compost with the clippings, together with yard
trimmings (old plants, wilted flowers, small prunings), leaves, vegetable
& fruit scraps, coffee grounds & filters, tea bags, stale bread,
eggshells, wood chips, sawdust from untreated wood & shredded paper
(low grade paper not acceptable for recycling). Do not use meat, fish
or poultry (including bones), food sauces, fats, grease or oils, dairy
products, invasive weeds, treated wood (or any materials containing
strong preservatives or toxins), pet wastes, ashes, charcoal or non-organic
material (plastic, metal, glass, etc.) For more information on home
composting, call the Pinellas County Cooperative Extension Service at
- Use the bases of 2-liter soda bottles, small aluminum
cans or paper egg cartons for seedlings.
- When taking a shower, put a bucket in the stall to collect
excess water. This can be used to water plants.
- Place barrels under down spouts to collect rain water.
- Use old tires cut in half as flower planters.
- Cut milk jugs in half and use as planters or bird feeders.
- Use free yard waste mulch then dress with cypress, etc.
- Use crumb rubber from recycled tires as mulch.
- Save plastic concentrated juice cans to support melons
and squash as they mature in your garden. They deter soil-borne insects
- Give usable old clothes to charities; make others into
- Give old magazines and books to nursing homes, charities,
schools, hospitals, etc.
- Rent or borrow seldom used equipment.
- Recycle old eyeglasses. Charities distribute them for
use in third world countries.
- Use inexpensive, biodegradable cleaners like: white vinegar
& lemon juice (which cut grease); baking soda (which cleans, deodorizes,
softens water & boosts the cleaning power of soap); washing soda
(which disinfects, cuts grease and removes stains); borax (which softens
water, cleans, deodorizes, disinfects and also kills insects).