WHAT TO THROW & WHAT TO BUY
Did you know the average person in the Twin Cities throws away 7 pounds of
garbage a day? That's enough to fill the Metrodome 11 times each year! Help
solve our growing garbage problem by knowing what to throw and what to buy.
The first step to managing waste is to go straight to the source - what
you buy. Your shopping habits can keep your community cleaner, your family
healthier, and stretch your budget further. It all starts with reducing the
amount of waste and toxic materials in your home. Check out the following tips
to get started.
1. CHOOSE LESS HARMFUL INGREDIENTS
- Choose products containing the least harmful ingredients in order to avoid disposal problems and reduce environmental impact.
- Product labels provide a quick and easy way to judge the product's hazard level or the type of hazard it poses. Look for signal words - Caution, Warning, Danger, Poison - which indicate the level of hazard to your family and the environment.
- Reduce the number of cleaning products in your home by using one general-purpose cleaner or by making your own non-toxic cleaners with household products such as baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar.
- Reduce or eliminate pesticides in your yard.
2. BUY (AND BRING!) REUSABLE CONTAINERS
- Take a reusable coffee mug to work or school. Many coffee houses provide a 5
to 10-cent discount per cup.
- Bring water and other beverages in reusable bottles when away from home.
- Buy milk, water or other beverages in refillable containers.
- Bring reusable cloth bags when grocery shopping. Many stores offer credit
for bringing your own bag. Only accept bags from the store when you need them.
3. BRING HOME GOODS, NOT PACKAGING
- Purchase products such as pasta, fruit, grains and nuts from self-serve
bins. Use your own containers when possible.
- Purchase items such as dish soap and laundry detergents in concentrate
- Look for products with the least amount of packaging and buy in bulk when
4. BUY PRODUCTS MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS
- Hundreds of everyday products, such as polar fleece and toothbrushes, are
made from recycled materials. Look for products labeled "post- consumer",
"pre-consumer" or "recycled-content."
5. REUSE, REPAIR AND RENT
Before shopping for new, think about used. You can find one-of-a-kind items
at consignment, thrift and antique stores, often at low cost.
Donate unwanted items to a local charity, or post them on the Twin Cities Free
, a listing service for residents who want to give
away or get free reusable goods for their home, garage or garden.
Repair broken items rather than throwing them away. Use do-it-yourself
guides, search the internet, or contact your local hardware store for
Consider renting infrequently used items such as power tools, camping gear
and sporting equipment.
Properly maintain items such as lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners and appliances
to avoid replacement and repair costs.
6. HAVE A NO-WASTE HOLIDAY
Use earth-friendly gift wrapping alternatives
- Scarves, handkerchiefs, bandannas
- Old posters and maps
- Pages from a child's coloring book
- Home-sewn, reusable cloth bags
- Reusable decorative bags
- A present in a present (example, cookies in a reusable tin, kitchen gifts in
- Last year's holiday paper (press with warm iron if wrinkled).
- Wrapping paper made from recycled paper
Reduce waste at holiday parties
Plan meals wisely and practice portion control.
Use reusable dishes, cups, silverware, and napkins; if you don't have
enough, ask to borrow reusable tableware from friends or family.
Cut up last year's holiday cards and use as place cards.
Place easily identifiable recycling containers at your celebration so guests
can recycle their pop cans, bottles, etc.
Save packing material, wrapping paper, and tissue paper for reuse.
Save bows, ribbon, tags, festive bags and boxes for next year.
Reduce waste after the holidays
- Recycle your tree! Some communities make discarded holiday trees into mulch
for use in community parks. Contact your county or waste hauler for more
For more holiday waste reduction tips, visit the Minnesota Pollution
Control Agency's at http://www.reduce.org/.