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Household Waste Reduction Tips


Image of green bagsSelective Shopping

  • Reduce the amount of packaging you buy, reuse what you can, and recycle the rest.
  • Look for products without packaging - tools, fresh produce, dry goods.
  • Avoid individually wrapped portions (cheese slices, juice, etc.).
  • 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 towels.
  • 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 excess plastic.
  • 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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Image of crushed cansIn the Home

  • 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 per load.
  • Use baking soda to clean sinks, toilet bowls and showers without harsh chemicals. Also, only a box will be left instead of plastic bottles.
  • 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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Recycling symbolAt the Office

  • 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 recycle it.
  • 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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Image of holiday lightingHoliday Tips

  • 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. Free gift wrap made from recycled paper is available every holiday season in Pinellas County. Call 464-7500 for information.
  • 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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workplace graphicIn the Yard

  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn. This helps to recycle nutrients ( 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 water.
  • 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 582-2100.
  • 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 and diseases.
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Image of plastic bottleOther Household Tips

  • Give usable old clothes to charities; make others into cleaning rags.
  • 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).