Reduce, reduce, reuse-and then recycle if you
have anything left over. Recycling consumes
tremendous amounts of water and energy, so while it
is better than disposing into a landfill, it is
still a resource intensive process.
Focus on ways to reduce source materials such as
product packaging, disposable containers, and junk
mail. Compost biodegradable materials; pack lunches
in reusable containers; drink from travel mugs that
you carry with you. Consider replacing paper
napkins and towels with cloth alternatives. Paper
or plastic?? Neither: take sturdy canvas tote bags
with you when you shop to bag your purchases. Be
frugal in printing electronic information on paper
(remember the concept of a paperless office?) and
whenever possible, use both sides of paper sheets
when printing and copying.
Let businesses know that you want other options
besides one-time-use containers and excessive
packaging. Don't buy disposable products and
over-packaged items. Support businesses that offer
product refills, such as hair care and beauty
products and household cleaning liquids. A leader
in this area is the Restore Products Company, a
recipient of a 2002 Governor's Award for Excellence
in Waste and Pollution Prevention in Minnesota.
Restore Products offers Restore Refill Stations to
distribute their earth friendly cleaning products;
visit them online at www.restoreproducts.com.
For more information, go online to www.pca.state.mn.us.