Source reduction is the top solid waste priority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Source reduction stops waste before it starts by decreasing the amount of materials used during the manufacturing or distribution of products and packages. Source reduction is not the same as recycling. Recycling is collecting already used materials and making them into another product. Recycling begins at the end of a product’s life, while source reduction first takes place when the product and its packaging are being designed. Typically, this process also results in less energy to manufacture and transport. Examples of source reduction include:
- Redesigning products and packaging to use fewer materials (e.g., today's plastic bottles are 37% lighter than they were a decade ago)
- Avoiding using materials in the first place (e.g., not taking disposable utensils or napkins that you will not use)
Reduce Unwanted Printed Materials
Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by calling the following toll-free number: 1-888-567-8688 (that's 888-5OPT-OUT) or visiting the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website.
Opt out of receiving printed phone books by registering at the National Yellow Pages consumer choice website. According to the Product Stewardship Council, every 100 unwanted phone books removed from printing and distribution reduces greenhouse gas emissions equal to nearly 2,000 miles driven by a passenger vehicle.
Reuse is the act of using materials repeatedly. The EPA characterizes reuse as "the use of a product more than once in its same form for the same purpose or different purposes." While recycling breaks items down to their core material parts in order to reprocess them into feedstock for recycled products, reuse keeps items out of the waste stream altogether by redistributing and circulating them locally. Reuse avoids the environmental and economic costs of garbage collection, transportation, and manufacturing new products. There are often social benefits, as many reused products are donated to charitable organizations that provide health, education, and human services while providing low cost products to users who need them. Examples of reuse include:
- Donating to and buying from second-hand organizations (nonprofit or for-profit)
- Sharing or renting products that you only use periodically (e.g., tools, bikes, books)
- Extending the useful lifespan of products (e.g., fixing a broken cell phone screen, rather than getting a new device)
A 2010 characterization study of items placed in the garbage by Monroe County residents found that almost five percent of local garbage was textile material that could have been reused or recycled. There are easy and convenient ways for residents to stop this material from entering local landfills. Reclaimed textiles can contribute considerably to reducing the impact of textile processes on the environment including the demand for chemicals, water and energy consumption (used heavily in the generation of new textiles). Local organizations provide a great outlet for these materials. Some of these companies will come to your door to pick up this reusable material and you may receive a receipt for a tax deduction.
In addition to clothes, most major thrift stores and donation centers will accept footwear, bedding, curtains, stuffed animals, and other items. Clothes that are no longer wearable can still be donated. Any torn, worn, or stained items can be recycled at major donation centers as long as they are clean, dry, and odorless. The ecopark will also accept clothing and textiles for donation to Goodwill. Click here for a list of local donation centers, accepting clothing, furniture, building materials and more.
The Western New York Materials Exchange (MAT-EX)
Western New York Materials Exchange (MAT-EX) is an opportunity for businesses to exchange unwanted/unusable products that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The MAT-EX website also allows businesses to locate free/inexpensive materials that can be used in daily business operations. Logon to MAT-EX and see what is available for your business and add materials to the MAT-EX listing.
MAT-EX involves businesses in twenty-one counties of Western/Central New York (Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming, Erie, Allegany, Steuben, Chautauqua, Monroe, Seneca, Tompkins, Orleans, Cattaraugus, Broome, Cayuga, and Tioga), Niagara Consortium, and the Western Finger Lakes and Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authorities.
Give. Share. Build Community.
These hyper-local gift economies where adults share, loan, give away or recieve goods and services are available in many communities throughout Monroe County.
Simply visit Facebook and search Buy Nothing with your location to see what is available in your neighborhood!