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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

2009 October 22

Hey Pick 5ers, it’s time again for you to share what you’ve done, how you did it, etc.  If you haven’t done it yet, Pick 5 for the Environment and then come back to comment. Today we cover action #4: reduce, reuse, recycle. Please share your stories as comments below.

In my house, we try to recycle everything. For example, I use newspapers instead of paper towels to clean windows, glass tables and mirrors. Afterward, I shred them to be placed in my compost. We save our cans to take them to a collection facility once a month. Money made from the cans is used to buy gas for our next recycling trip to the collection facility.

When making my trips to the grocery store, I bring my own canvas bags instead of getting plastic bags at the counter. Canvas bags are offered at the grocery store, are very inexpensive, and using them helps to save our landfills from filling up.

I also have a compost box in my backyard. All of my kitchen waste is placed in there along with my yard waste and other items. I use this soil in the spring to plant my garden. It’s amazing how little changes in your life can help save the environment. It’s been a lot of fun seeing what I have done to help.

Now it’s your turn: How do you reduce, reuse, and recycle? If you’re not sure what you can do, learn more on our site.

You can also still share how you save water, , commute without polluting, and save electricity.

Note: to ward off advertisers using our blog as a platform, we don’t allow specific product endorsements.  But feel free to suggest Web sites that review products, suggest types of products, and share your experiences using them!

About the author: Denise Owens has worked at EPA for over twenty years. She is currently working in the Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

32 Responses leave one →
  1. Antje Dirksen-Post permalink
    October 22, 2009

    I work for two not-for-profit agencies. About two years ago, I started a recycling program at agency #1, which has bloomed tremendously. We regularly recycle between 5 and 7 large bags of shredded paper, cans, bottles and lots and lots of card board.
    Agency #2 was a little harder to start because most paper has to go to a contract shredder, but we have begun with can, bottles, magazines and catalogs.
    The only challenge I have is keeping the pick up dates in mind.
    Antje

  2. tmosley permalink
    October 22, 2009

    The company I work for we receive a lot of cardboard boxes. In the past we just recycle the boxes and packed our customers shipments with Styrofoam peanuts. We now stopped using the peanuts and reuse the extra cardboard as packing material.

  3. kimberly permalink
    October 22, 2009

    omg.this is a good valuable lesson about going green, you have really inspired me

  4. edgardo berraz permalink
    October 22, 2009

    I use,reuse and recycle all elements that in my home had entered.Cans are compiled and then crushed into minimal space,for bring it a helping organization owned by local church who sales the aluminium resultant and so contribute with more poors parroquians.Journal paper it’s used by the way for cleanig glasses and cwramic floors.And so all elements are reutilized and nothing is discharged without before be carefully detained.

  5. Mrs Green permalink
    October 23, 2009

    My family and I recycle all we can. Like you, Denise, we take our own reusable shopping bags to the store, compost all we can at the kerbside and compost.

    In addition we take our own reusable containers to the butchers and deli so that we don’t end up with unnecessary plastic packaging.

    We haven’t had our bin emptied since the beginning of the year because we produce so little waste! Each week we have less than 100gms of waste which is non recyclable plastics and composite materials such as crisp bags.

    We’ve been writing about our experiences since June 2008 over at http://myzerowaste.com if you’re interested in seeing what we have been up to.

    In addition I make household cleaners from things like baking soda and white vinegar. We use rhassoul clay on our hair and skin and buy in bulk wherever possible from a food co-op 1 large bag of grains for example uses far less packaging than 6 smaller bags (I’ve weighed it; I know it’s true LOL!)

    We also take unneeded clothes to a charity shop, make other things from it or cut up into cloths and we look for reusable options to disposable products such as kitchen towel. Like tmosley says, we keep all packaging that comes in and reuse it.

    It’s all about doing one new habit at a time and adding it all together, then it becomes easier.

    Great post and lovely to see awareness being raised of this issue – thanks!

  6. David permalink
    October 23, 2009

    I return my wire hangers back to my dry cleaner, he is very happy to reuse them.

  7. armansyahardanis permalink
    October 23, 2009

    We used water pump in my home. I always do it alone, because if my servant do that is not OK. Electricity bill, can rise. Save electricity save money. Each three months, I always sell my newspaper and that money I give to servant daughter. Each three hours, the men takes our waste material for their sold to the agent. They say, for their lives. Substantially, in my place, they are and its company that who doing reducing, reusing and recycling. In fact, they are the heroes, not govt.

  8. Rudi Birzin permalink
    October 23, 2009

    Recycle at the desktop refill bottled water bottles from your office tap. This saves tons and is so easy. Bottled water is no different from any approved watersource in the U.S., I have seen bottled water company drivers refill their five gallon jugs with a garden hose out in a parking lot, so why pay for it? From making the bottles to delivery and finally disposal bottled water is a terrible user of resources. Recycle your bottled water bottle and everyone will think that you are so sophisticated with your bottled water when you saved a buck, have the same water, and didn’t cause any disposal problems!

  9. Malakoo permalink
    October 23, 2009

    I recently did some work in Hollywood, Fl replacing some gutters. The gutters were made of 4″ PVC pipe. In Martin County where I live there are a lot of fishing locations. There is a recycling program for fishing line and many fishing locations do not have these canisters. After removing 60 ft of old PVC, I decided to cut it into 2ft pieces and mount them on local docs and areas where fishermen frequent. Being an avid fisherman I know if they are there most people will use them.
    http://www.malakoo.org

  10. Johnny R. permalink
    October 23, 2009

    Ms. Owens,

    You have a blind spot in your use of the word “reduce”. Obviously, the most important thing to reduce is the human population because that would lower the demand for the product materails that are polluting the environment, building the mountains of landfill and choking the Pacific Ocean with plastic trash. But no one at EPA dares to acknowledge or discuss this fact. Why is that?

  11. Simply EL (Elaine Carter) permalink
    October 23, 2009

    This is a quote from my book Bee Quiet, an Eco-thriller, Sci-Fi novel. I wrote this book to encourage the world to go green.

    “The newest most lucrative and very environmentally beneficial business of the twenty first century will be the recycling and reclaiming business.

    “All garbage that people throw away is not garbage. Much of it is manufactured substances that can be reused over and over again and made into new items. One time use and then throw away habits have to change. Plastics, metals and glass have endless reincarnated lives. People have to learn to sort their garbage. Sorting is not as hard as some people may make it out to be. This is how to make it easy. In your kitchen, you put a small garbage can right next to a large recycling can. When you have something to discard, it takes a one second decision to choose which can an item will go into. All newspapers, food and other packaging boxes, cardboard, office and school paper, old homework papers, magazines, junk mail, old phone books, catalogues, paper folders, used posters, paper signs, used gift wrapping paper and paper bags should be recycled.

    “The paper you won’t recycle include obviously used tissues and soiled paper towels, anything that is laminated with a plastic or other coating such as juice boxes, soiled pizza boxes. Usually the bottom of the pizza box is full of grease and melted cheese, but the lid of the box is often times clean. Tear the lid off the box and recycle that if it is clean. Also, don’t recycle any papers that have personal information on them.

  12. Simply EL (Elaine Carter) permalink
    October 23, 2009

    I would love for Lisa Jackson and all of the staff at the EPA to read y book. Many solutions are offered for how we can heal the world’s environmental wounds. It’s free online at http://readbeequiet.com

  13. Toni permalink
    October 23, 2009

    Those are some good steps. I am responding because recently I saw on the news talking about the reusable bags, although they are a good idea, you need to be sure to wash them every week or month. We tend to forget what all we carry in them, from meats to unwashed veggies. So to prevent illnesses, be sure to wash them. In terms of shredding, I love to recycle my paper shreds from my crosscut paper shredder. I do so in a variety of ways, from outright recycling them in the blue bin, to using it as shipping materials, instead of “peanuts”, to using them in crafts and using them in my compost pile.

  14. Karl permalink
    October 23, 2009

    I re-use cardboard boxes for art projects and home insulation. And I don’t use paper towels – I have a big box of rags that I use over and over. I give all my glass bottles to my friend Jarda, who smashes them up and uses them for aggregate in concrete countertops!

  15. Jackenson Durand permalink
    October 23, 2009

    I can tell that my current job duties are 90% related on recycling challenge.
    This is the time I concentrate to clean my yards the most.
    Lead poising is something that I am observing with much vigilant attitude for children health and safety.
    Spreading the word becomes a part of my life basically.
    Educating myself on environment (nature) that I am living and sharing with others, is now unstoppable, I have already been green. Since the first time, I have been introducing myself to the new green generation to preserve our o3.

  16. nikde permalink
    October 24, 2009

    The only challenge I have is keeping the pick up dates in mind.

  17. Laura Stukel permalink
    October 24, 2009

    I found a great knob of Planet Earth to put on our recycling bin. It’s a fun and easy way to get our kids and friends involved. Check out this photo our bin in our local paper: http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/elmhurst/news/x939033081/Green-house-takes-home-national-honors

    See where I ordered here on my blog: http://www.greenreedyhomes.com/?p=237

  18. Rose permalink
    October 24, 2009

    I take all of my newspapers to either the local V.A. thrift store for them to use or to church for recycling. We collect all cans and glass and take them to the recycling center.
    Any water glasses that still have water in them get poured into the dog dish.
    We take empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls to the local animal shelter for them to use with hampsters and other small animal toys. We also give them towels and sheets that we don’t need anymore.
    Recycle.com has listings of things that people need or want to give away. We use that a lot!
    I gave away a diningroom set and got a water heater. Made some good friends that way too.

  19. Philip H in Silver Spring permalink
    October 25, 2009

    Ever since my fourth grade teacher instilled in her students the reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy, I have made a conscious effort to do my part. What I learned that day in class and still believe today is that reducing, reusing, and recycling doesn’t equate to drastic life changes. You can still live your life and help the environment.

    In my own life I make small changes to reduce, reuse and recycle.

    I consolidate my trips to the grocery, barbershop, dry cleaners, bank, etc. Not only does this reduce my carbon emissions, but it is efficient time management as well!

    And if I am going somewhere with my friends, why not travel together? Carpooling not only can save the environment, but it saves me a few dollars in gas money too!

    Reducing my electricity and water consumption is not difficult either. Before leaving for work I make sure to turn out all lights, and when I shower, I keep it brief but productive.

    One practice I perform but I think slips most people’s mind is recycling. Living with three other roommates each with a Washington Post newspaper subscription, keeps me conscious about recycling. Just one day can generate 30 plus pages of print! Recycling is as easy as finding the correct receptacle.

    Above all, by performing all these little tasks I can play an active role in conserving resources and reducing my effect on the environment.

  20. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    October 25, 2009

    I am on the Board of Directors of my condo homeowners’ association. And we have implemented a reycling program complex wide. We now have a specially designated dumpster at each dumpster pad in the complex designated only for recyclibles with the recycling message on the front of each of these dumpsters in Emglish, Spanish, and Persian. We also have done a reach out program to each unit about household battery recycling. Recycling batteries in regular recycling containers is illegal in California as is putting batteries in regular trash. But the city does have a battery recycling program where residents can take household batteries to the library and have them placed in a special reycling container. A contractor comes out and picks up the battery container when full. This is especially good for our complex because it is only a block from the library. We have also just began the process of putting together a water recycling program with our water district which will save a trmendous amount of water and cut association water bills by 80%. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  21. BeWaterWise Rep permalink
    October 26, 2009

    The three R’s make way for a better planet! Recycling items like paper, plastic, glass, prevent the accumulation of wastes that end up in a landfill. Re-using old clothes also helps. For instance old jeans can be converted into a bag that can be used for shopping instead of a plastic bag. Reducing the wastage of water at home and outdoors is necessary. http://j.mp/4kE5Yj has tips to save gallons of water!

  22. Jason Estes permalink
    October 27, 2009

    Great tips. Your family’s green living efforts will hopefully encourage others in your community to learn more about going green, and what it can do for our environment. We can all do our part by sharing these ideas, and making small changes in our daily lives that will make a big difference down the road.

    Go Green!

    Jason Estes

  23. green lawyer permalink
    October 28, 2009

    In addition to my efforts to reduce waste through recycling and composting, I have been creating fun gifts from clothing that is too worn out to wear. Checkout some of my projects:

    http://greenfornothing.blogspot.com/2009/06/denim-recycling.html
    http://greenfornothing.blogspot.com/2009/09/more-denim-recycling.html
    http://greenfornothing.blogspot.com/2009/10/halloween-sock-cat.html
    http://greenfornothing.blogspot.com/2009/10/even-more-denium-recycling.html

  24. ashley permalink
    October 29, 2009

    If you have any old cell phones go to HaveURebooted.com and recycle them for free!

  25. Nitish Garg permalink
    December 26, 2009

    I reuse the empty bottles, can etc. after drinking the inside liquid.
    I also encourage my friends not to throw empty bottles and reuse it for storing water. I use the waste paper to make collages and art work from them.

  26. Allison MacArthur-Ruesink permalink
    January 7, 2010

    Bottles, cans, paper and corregated cardboard get recycled. Plastic bags and sturdy carry out containers, and jars get at least a second use before discarding

  27. Libby Rollins permalink
    March 15, 2010

    I ride the bus to work, and always turn off all my lights. During the night in the summer I sleep with my windows open and turn the AC off.
    —-
    Libby Rollins

  28. rrtrw permalink
    July 15, 2010

    Bottles, cans, paper and corregated cardboard get recycled. Plastic bags and sturdy carry out containers, and jars get at least a second use before discarding

  29. Sammy Samuelson permalink
    September 6, 2010

    Over the last 31 years,I have been using American Made Synthetic
    OILS in all of my vehicles,Bobcats,small engines etc.,extending oil
    drain intervals out toas much as 25,000 miles and extended hours from 200 to as many as1,500 hrs.,using By-Pass filters on most all systems,verified by OIL ANALYSIS.Analyzing your oil allows you to
    identify problems before they become roadside ,time consuming events,no one wants. Downtime no matter what is costly!!!
    Each qt. of oil equates to one gal. of gas @ the pump ,what would you rather have? Also use FOAM AIR FILTERS,cleanable by vacuuming ,and they even work on our VacuumCleaner,haven’t replaced the element in 4 yrs.,and can’t believe the amount of
    different types of dirt not normally collected! Reduce,Reuse,Recycle!!
    Thanks for letting me share!
    Sammy Samuelson

  30. DSS permalink
    February 1, 2011

    More and more people are now venturing out to eco-friendly businesses which is a good thing. Consumer awareness should also be come widespread so that more people will know how to handle their used paper and plastic items and not pose harm to the environment.

  31. April 17, 2012

    Hey Can u just Link me to ur RSS

  32. Bill Bowman permalink
    October 3, 2013

    After fighting with the office manager about getting us into the recycling habit. We can now say here at Basement Waterproofing Philadelphia that we “Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse most of the recyclables in our offices. I have shared this post with my friends and family to get them on board as well.

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