Tips on Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling
1. Create a Home Recycling Station
Find a convenient location in your home to set up a recycling station. Using bins or boxes, separate your recyclable materials. Make sure to rinse out all containers and remove their caps. Remember, food and drink products are not the only recyclable materials. Shampoo bottles, detergent containers, and a variety of other materials are recyclable.
- Create a bin for plastics # 1-5 and # 7, and aluminum products. The plastic symbol is usually located at the bottom of a recyclable container.
- To avoid messes, choose solid containers for storing items such as glass jars or cans that may have a sticky residue.
- Place another container for glass materials such as bottles or jars.
- A third bin for paper products and cardboard
- Newspapers should be kept separate from the other paper bin. Keep the newspaper together using paper grocery bags or by tying them together with string.
- When you feel ready to recycle, take all your bins and bags to the Wellfleet Transfer Station, located at: 220 West Main Street, Wellfleet, MA 02667.
2. Kitchen Composting
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency estimates that %25 of all garbage that ends up in landfills and incinerators is organic food matter, ie, the food you and I throw in the garbage. Instead of throwing it out, compost it!
- Using a bucket or pale with a lid, make a space in your kitchen to save food scraps. These scraps should have no contact with animal matter, including grease or butter.
- Construct or purchase a compost container to put in your backyard. These can range from simple wood-frame boxes to more ‘high-tech’ bins like the Earth Machines offered at the Wellfleet Transfer Station.
- Dispose of your kitchen scraps into your outdoor composting area as frequently as possible (once to twice a week). Make sure to turn over your outdoor pile with a shovel every week to keep it fresh.
- Even if you have no room outdoors for a compost area, you can still compost! The Wellfleet Transfer Station has an area specifically for composting. Use a bucket to collect your kitchen scraps and take it to the Transfer Station along with all your other recyclables.
- For more information on how to compost, Click Here
I.) An estimated % 44 of “junk” or advertising mail is discarded without even being opened. What’s more, close to % 40 of the solid mass which makes up our landfills are paper products. Cut it at the source and take your name and address off the mailing list for all junk mail and free newspapers.
- For information provided by the Federal Trade Commission on how to opt out of unsolicited mail, Click Here. For a $ 1 fee, organizations such as the Direct Mailing Associating offer similar services. For more information visit www.dmachoice.org.
II.) Use Reusable Items
There are reusable options for many of the consumable items in our lives
- Bring a bag to the grocery store or shopping mall.
- Fill up your own water bottle with tap or filtered water, instead of purchasing bottled water.
- Take a coffee mug with you to your favorite café. The coffee tastes the same and you will reduce your carbon footprint.
- Although a little more expensive, rechargeable batteries have a much longer life than normal batteries.
III.) Reduce it at the Source
Just like junk mail, Americans consume unnecessary materials at an astounding rate. Limit the amount of non-reusable items you buy.
- Buy in bulk. This saves you money, and cuts back on packaging material.
- Avoid using plastic utensils, paper plates, and plastic cups.
- Purchase longer-lasting items.
IV.) Visit Your Local Library
Instead of buying books and DVD’s, simply borrow them from the library. Libraries across the Cape participate in a wonderful interlibrary loan system, so you can literally choose from thousands of books, DVD’s, and music without consuming new materials
I.) Give It Away
If you have unwanted but usable items, consider donating or selling them instead of trashing them.
- Donate them to a charity
- Take them to Wellfleet’s Swap Shop located at the Transfer Station
- Sell them on craigslist.org, ebay, or some other classifieds forum.
II.) Fix It, Don’t Dump It
The best environmental choice is to repair, restore or adapt a product you already have. You may need professional help but it could still be cheaper than buying something new - half of electrical goods left at dumps work or require only basic repairs.
5. Alternate Ideas
I.) Recycling Audit
Consider giving yourself or your family a ‘recycling audit’. It is a fun way to reduce your waste, and improve your reducing/recycling habits.
- Measure the pounds of trash you throw away and pounds of materials you recycle the first week.
- Each week, try and decrease the trash pounds you throw away. Try and increase, or even decrease the number of pounds you recycle.
- Although it sounds simple, each week will test your creativity to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
II.) Buy local
Shipping products across the world not only increases greenhouse emissions, it also increases the amount of packaging materials that end up in our waste stream.
- Send e-cards for birthdays and holidays
- Buy washable cotton cloths for kitchen messes instead of paper towels.
- If available, buy glass bottles for your milk and dairy products.
- Only print when you really need to. Write the important information from an email, article, or website on a piece of scrap paper.
- Reduce paper and ink -- print double side and in black and white
- Use light weight paper. Weight, in lbs, can be found on paper packaging.
Use shredded paper for packing or storing items.
Reuse envelopes by placing a label over the old address.
See if local schools, libraries, medical centers, retirement communities, etc, would want the magazines and journals you have already read. These items can be reread or used for arts and crafts projects.
Request that deliveries be shipped in returnable containers and return cardboard boxes to distributor.
Recycle electronic items you no longer use.
Plant landscaping that requires low maintenance and generates less waste (grows slowly, doesn't need to be trimmed and uses less water). Even though it is organic, it may still require months or years to break-down.
Chip tree trimmings and use as mulch.
- Making your own lunch instead of buying from a sandwich shop saves on packaging, and could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.
- When your incandescent light burns out, replace them with low-energy compact fluorescent tubes. They last longer and are more energy efficient.
- Styrofoam doesn’t degrade. Find a substitute, if possible. Don't buy Styrofoam peanut packaging - but if some comes your way - reuse it!
- Donate usable construction items to Habitat for Humanity. Visit their website http://www.habitatcapecod.org/
Purchase reusable air filters or air filter frames. Completely reusable air filters only require cleaning with hot water (no soap), instead of replacing a whole new unit.