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Waste Reduction -- For Home and Office

What is Waste Reduction? Try the following hierarchy. It will help you take the first step when making a waste reduction decision:

1. Source Reduction/Waste Prevention - what is it made of, can it be recycled, do you really need it, how is it packaged

2. Reuse

3. Recycling and Composting

Paper or Plastic; degradable or not; how does one decide?

Try following the packaging hierarchy:

1. No packaging; products which can be sold in bulk or without a package

2. Minimal packaging

3. Consumable, returnable or refillable/reusable packaging

4. Recyclable packaging/packaging made from recyclable material

It is tough to be a "'green" consumer today, when nearly every company is marketing its product as environmentally friendly. Every time you make a purchase, ask yourself the following questions. It is up to you to establish your own hierarchy, depending on your level of commitment, lifestyle and budget.

- Is the package necessary, and is there an alternative?

- Is the product/package recyclable?

- Does the product contain toxic chemicals? Remember that many dyes and inks, particularly bright yellows and red, may be toxic in large enough amounts.

- Does the manufacture of this product a toxic by- product?

- Is the product I'm purchasing a single-use item, or will it be long-lasting?

- Can this product (applies to appliances, etc.) be repaired?

Waste reduction can be contagious. With this premise in mind, we can approach what seems to be an overwhelming problem, with a positive attitude that we can"make a difference". We aren't going to solve the waste problem overnight, but these simple steps can go a long way towards affecting the public's attitudes and behavior.

Anti-junk Mail Campaign

Americans receive (and discard!) about 2 million tons of junk mail every year about 44 percent of which is never opened or read! Your name is "recyclable". Once it's on a list, it can be traded, rented or sold to companies for other mailings... which can put you on another list that's traded, rented or sold again. There are a number of ways to significantly reduce the amount of mail you receive.

Preprinted post cards make it easy to respond quickly to senders of unwanted mail.

Postcard project

To Whom it May Concern: In the interest of reducing waste, please: Remove my address from your mailing list

Creditors: please limit your mailings to my monthly bill (no extra advertising)

Member Organizations: please limit your mailings to renewal notices and important announcements

All senders.: use recyclable/recycled paper wherever possible

All senders: your use of plastic windows for envelopes is preventing me from recycling the envelope - there is a better way!

Mail order companies: Please reduce the number of catalogues you mail to me each year. Please do not share my name and address with any other companies or organizations under any circumstances.

Affix mailing label here

Here are some other ways to reduce junk mail:

- If you receive unsolicited offers that include a pre- paid envelope, simply pack up the junk mail that came with it, insert into the envelope and mail back to sender -- the sender pays the postage, AND the cost of disposing of the waste!

- Use 800-numbers--especially for mail order catalogues -- to ask that your name (or the previous tenant!) be removed from their mailing list. Most are happy to comply.

- When you contribute money to a charitable organization ask that your name not be shared with others. Simply write a friendly note right with your check.

- When you order something, stipulate that you do not want your name sold to other companies. Cut the problem at the source!

- Write: Mail Preference Service (MPS) Direct Marketing Association, 11 West 42nd Street, P.O. Box 3861, New York, NY 10163-3861

MPS can help stop your name from being sold to most large mailing list companies, which could reduce your junk mail by as much as 75 percent! Urge mail-order companies with whom you do business to eliminate duplicate names, update old addresses and process their mailing lists through the MPS to remove names of consumers who have registered with the service to stop unsolicited mailings.

- K.D. Enviro-Ventures, Inc is offering the'"junk Mail Prevention Kit", a 20-page booklet that tells consumers how to remove their names from mailing lists, plus eight postcards and 88"return mail" stickers ($3.95); send request to 5235 Roland Drive, Indianapolis, Inc. 46208; add $1 for postage.


The material was taken from a talk given by Michigan State University Extension specialists, based on materials from Resource Recycling Systems Inc.

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This information is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. This information becomes public property upon publication and may be printed verbatim with credit to MSU Extension. Reprinting cannot be used to endorse or advertise a commercial product or company.

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

This information.was reviewed as of June 2008.  For more information about the contents please contact for webpage problems .