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Reduction 101

Recy­cling has become a cen­ter­piece of the envi­ron­men­tal move­ment, and it should be. As a pro­fes­sional in this field over the past 15 years, I have had count­less peo­ple approach me about their recy­cling habits – excited to share the lat­est item they have added to the recy­cling stream, or how much they have reduced their waste stream, etc.

The gen­eral pub­lic has come a long way since the first Earth Day almost 42 years ago. The vast major­ity of res­i­dents in Howard County are now con­scious of the waste and recy­cling being gen­er­ated in their homes. From my per­spec­tive, how­ever, the empha­sis often seems to be on reduc­ing waste that exits the home, as opposed to mak­ing attempts to reduce waste on the front end. What are you talk­ing about, Laura?

An easy go-to exam­ple would be some­thing like juices or other drinks that come in both con­cen­trated and ready-to-drink pack­ages. When we pack lunch for our daugh­ter, I get out one of her four cups and fill it with juice (admit­tedly half water and half juice). This was actu­ally some­thing that I started just because we had cups in the house and juice in the house and I had to send *some­thing* for her to drink. We have been doing this for years, but it was only the other night that I really rec­og­nized how much waste we were reduc­ing by not send­ing indi­vid­ual serv­ing juice boxes for her lunch.

Maybe the reduc­tion mes­sage isn’t com­ing across strongly enough? It seems that recy­cling is so much at the fore­front of everyone’s minds that it is almost sec­ond nature, but reduc­ing waste at the source involves a bit more brain power.

Are you ready Howard County? Are you ready to take the next step and think about your pur­chas­ing prac­tices and how that impacts your waste and recy­cling generation?

The options are (excuse the pun) at your dis­posal… it is up to you to decide how you can reduce the waste that comes in to your home. Here, I’ll help you a little:

• Buy prod­ucts made with recy­cled con­tent.
• Rent, share or bor­row items not used fre­quently.
• Buy con­cen­trates or items in bulk.
• Obtain gen­tly used items on Craigslist and Freecy­cle, or at a sec­ond­hand shop.
• Buy durable and reusable prod­ucts. Try to stay away from dis­pos­able items.
• Buy food and other items with as lit­tle as pack­ag­ing as pos­si­ble; request that retail­ers stock items with less pack­ag­ing.
• When shop­ping, bring reusable bags.

Be the pio­neer and spread the reduc­tion mes­sage (at the same time you reuse and recy­cle every­thing you can )!

Laura A.T. Miller

April 2012

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