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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Page history last edited by Gardener 8 years, 7 months ago



Simplify your life. Make energy conservation a routine part of your life. Conserve our natural resources for generations to come. Read the Climate Change page to find out how.


The Story of Stuff - 20 min., fast-paced, fact-filled, online video looks at underside of our production and consumption patterns. Think before you buy. Do you really need the item? Be creative. Improvise. What else could you use? If you still need the item, could you buy it used? When you finish using the item what will happen to it? Help reduce landfill waste. The average American generates 4.4 lbs. of waste each day, nearly double the waste we generated in 1960. Think about the cradle to cradle cost of all purchases, detailed in William McDonough's book Cradle to Cradle. Try to purchase items with limited packaging. Waste prevention is also known as source reduction. See the EPA site for further details. When you do purchase items buy durable goods that may be recycled or composted.


The National Geographic Society's The Green Guide: Plastic Containers provides information on which plastics to use and which to avoid:

  • Briefly, glass, ceramic, stoneware, and stainless steel are still the best options.  
  • Only buy #2, #4, and #5 plastic containers if you need plastic. Most research has shown no leaching of any carcinogens or endocrine disruptors in #2, #4, and #5.  
  • Avoid #3 as it is made of PVC which contains vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen. PVC production and incineration releases dioxins, another carcinogen and hormone disruptor. Avoid #6, polystyrene, which may leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen. Avoid #7, usually made of polycarbonate, which may leach BPA into liquids and foods. To avoid exposure to toxic chemicals do NOT reheat anything in plastic; use glass containers. Read The Green Guide PDF for details.
  • Although #1 PETE is one of the most commonly recycled types, there are no containers designed for re-use made from it, and one should avoid re-using single-use #1 plastic bottles because their design does not lend itself to proper cleaning and the bottles can harbor bacterial growth. (Note:Wide mouth #1 jars may be washed and reused for hardware storage.)


Further information about BPA, Bisphenol-A, at Penn State Live:1.12.09  Probing question: Is plastic dangerous? 


National Resource Defense Council's Is BPA-free the Same as Safe?  Feb 2009. Bottom line, unable to determine because manufacturer does not state components of Tritan "copolyester" plastic.



  • Could you use an item for another purpose rather than throwing it out?


  • If you have a plastic container without its lid, could you use the bottom half as a mold for making bird suet? Once the suet is frozen, tap it out of the container and store it in a recycled plastic bag. Read the Sialis in-depth page of suet recipes. Brenda's Super Mix is easy to make and readily eaten by bluebirds, chickadees, and wrens. You may add black-oil sunflower and chipped sunflowers seeds to the mix


  • Save waxed cereal bags for a sandwich or cookies for a bag lunch. 


  • Save large plastic bags such as those that hold your toilet paper to use to dispose of waste rather than using a plastic garbage bag. If you are composting organic waste this is easy to do as you will mainly have dry trash. Learn how to compost by reading the Composting page.


  • Use cloth handkerchiefs rather than tissue. They are easy to make from scraps of fabric. Cut out a square and fold over the edges to conceal the raw edge. Stitch by machine or hand. Make several to keep one in your bed, bike, car, pockets, and to give as gifts. Wash with your regular clothes.


  • Keep a kitchen cloth beside your sink to use to wipe up the counter rather than a paper towel. Wash with your regular clothes. You may want to color code the cloth use; i.e. green ones for floor use and blue ones for the counter.


  • Keep rags under each sink to use to wipe up floor spills rather than using a paper towel.



  • Bring cloth bags for purchases rather than accepting a plastic or paper bag from a merchant. Keep cloth bags beside your door or in your bicycle or car so you'll remember to use them. IKEA is the first national merchant that no longer provides bags for customers. Make a tote bag from scrap fabric or old clothing following the instructions for the classic open tote at the Make It Easy Sewing & Craft link.  To find out why read the Sierra Club's article Plastic Bags: Switching to Reusable Cloth Bags. View PDF to see photos from various sources showing the hazards of plastic bags: The Plastic Bag Story.pdf 


  • Bring fine mesh cotton bags for produce.  As soon as you empty out the produce at home put them inside your cloth grocery bags in your car or bike or keep one in your handbag or waist pouch. Make draw-string ones or buy them. They are easy to make. Fold fabric in half, right sides together; sew seam along two sides. Turn down top raw edge twice, making about a 1/2 inch wide edge. Leaving 2 inches open along each side seam to insert drawstring, sew across the folded edge.  Insert ribbon or cord through 2 inch opening forming loop on one side seam and tie ends together at other side seam.  If confused, follow the directions for small wheelchair tote bag at the Make it Easy Sewing & Craft link.


  • Start knitting. One knitter reused his old rock climbing rope to knit a floor mat. 


  • Use cloth bags, cloth napkins, tablecloth, or comics for gift wrapping. Follow instructions at See the pattern here on Annie's Gift bags page of Make it Easy Sewing & Craft link.


  • Directions from Domesticali blog page to make an origami wreath.


Recylcing only helps if there is a market for the recycled items and if people buy recycled items. Conserving our natural resources for future generations needs to be the focus. Trees, for example, take many years to regenerate so we need to harvest them sustainably so we will always have wood to build furniture, homes, etc. Biodegradable products that are composted return nutrients to the soil.


Purchasing wisely helps conserve our natural resources. Think of what will happen to an item when you are finished using it.


Act 101 of 1988 requires commercial, municipal, and institutional establishments located in Pennsylvania's mandated municipalities to recycle high-grade office paper, corrugated paper, aluminum and leaf waste.  In addition, establishments must recycle any other materials included in the municipality‚Äôs recycling ordinance or regulations, which includes glass, newsprint, and #1 and #2 plastics.  Community events such as fairs, carnivals, and sporting events must also comply.


Habitat ReStores

Accept quality used and surplus building materials. What is accepted varies by store so call the store before bringing large items. Pick-up service may be available for a charge. These retail outlets sell the items to help fund the construction of Habitat houses in the local communities. Habit for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization building simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need. 



Grassroots global nonprofit organization seeking to keep usable items out of landfills. Sign in at the site to read postings, either items Wanted or Offered.  All items must be free. Enter your city or county and state to find the group nearest you. 


Read the Composting page to learn what organic matter may be composted in your yard.


Read Banning Burn Barrels by PSU to learn about the horrible hazards of open burning.


Climate Change 



Native Plant Landscaping













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