United States          EPA 530-K-96-003
                 Environmental Protection    September 1996
                 Solid Waste and Emergency Response (5305W)
The Consumer's
Handbook for
Reducing  Solid  Waste
 Printed on paper that contains at least 20 percent postconsumer fiber.

The  Cat's Out of  the  Bag
                  * Reduce  • Reuse
                  Recycle  * Respond
   This booklet describes how people can help solve a growing prob-
 lem...garbage! Individual consumers can help alleviate America's
 mounting trash problem by making environmentally aware decisions
 about everyday things like shopping and caring for the lawn. Like
 the story that says cats have nine lives, so do many of the items we use
 every day. Empty cans and jars can be reused to store many items, such
 as nails or thumbtacks. The baking soda bought to bake a cake also
 can be used to scrub kitchen counters. The container that began its
 life as a plastic milk jug can be washed and reused to water plants,
 create an arts and crafts project,  or be transformed into a bird feeder.
 Eventually, the milk jug can be recycled to create a new plastic
   Reusing products is just one way to cut down on what we throw
 away. This booklet outlines many practical steps to reduce the amount
 and toxicity of garbage. These aren't the only steps that can be taken
 to reduce waste, but they're a good start.

                   Solid  Waste
   K;ich yc;ir, Americans generate
 millions of tons of trash in the form
 of wrappings, bottles, boxes, cans,
 grass dippings, furniture, clothing,
 phone books, and much, much,
   Dunibk1 goods (tires, appliances,
 furniture) and nondurable goods
 (paper, certain disposable products,
 clothing) account for several million
 tons of the solid waste stream. Con-
 tainer and packaging waste is a sig-
 nificant component of the nation's
 waste stream as well. This material
 includes glass, aluminum, plastics,
 steel and other metals, anfl paper
 and paprihnatd. Yard trimmings
 such as grass dippings and tree
 limbs are also a substantial part of
 what we throw away. In addition,
 many relatively small components
of the national solid waste stream
add up to millions of tons. For
example, one percent of the
 nation's waste stream can amount
 to about two million tons of trash
 each year,

 Source Reduction:
 A Basic Solution
   Across the country, many individ-
 uals, communities, and businesses
 have found creative ways to reduce
 and better manage their trash
 through a coordinated mix of prac-
 tices that includes source reduction
 (see box on page 4).
   Simply put, source reduction is
 waste prevent ion. It includes many
 actions that reduce the overall
 amount or toxicity  of waste created.
 Source reduction can conserve
 resources, reduce pollution, and
 help cut waste disposal and han-
dling costs (it avoids the costs of
recycling, composting, landfilling,
and combustion).

            General Overview  of What's in America's  Trash

            Yard Trimmings
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Integrated Waste Management
   Integrated waste management refers to the complementary use of
a variety of practices to safely and effectively handle municipal solid
waste. The following is EPA's preferred hierarchy of approaches.
1.  Source reduction is the design, manufacture, purchase, or use
    of materials  (such as products and packaging) to reduce the
    amount or toxicity  of trash generated.  Source reduction can
    help reduce waste disposal and handling costs because it avoids
    the costs of recycling, municipal composting, landfilling,  and
    combustion. It also conserves resources  and reduces pollution.
2.  Recycling is the process by which materials are collected and
    used as raw materials for new products.  There are four steps in
    recycling: collecting the  recyclable components  of  municipal
    solid waste, separating materials by type (before or  after collec-
    tion), processing them into reusable  forms, and purchasing
    and using the goods made with reprocessed materials. Recycling
    prevents  potentially useful materials from being landfilled or
    combusted, thus preserving our capacity for disposal. Recycling
    often saves energy and natural resources. Composting, a form
    of recycling, can play a key role in diverting organic wastes from
    disposal facilities.
3.  Waste combustion and landfilling play a key role in managing
    waste that cannot be reduced or recycled. Combustion in  spe-
    cially designed facilities reduces the bulk of waste and provides
    the added benefit of energy recovery. Source reduction and
    recycling can remove items from the waste stream that may be
    difficult to burn,  cause potentially harmful emissions, or make
    ash management  problematic.  Landfilling is-and will  continue
    to  be-a major component of waste management.  The  portion
    of waste  requiring incineration or  land disposal can be signifi-
    cantly reduced by examining individual contributions to garbage
    and by promoting the wise use and reuse of resources.

amount, of waste going to landfills
and conserve resources.

Making Source
Reduction Work
   Putting  source reduction into
practice is  likely to require some
change in our daily  routines.
Changing habits does not mean a
return to a more difficult lifestyle,
however. In fact, just the opposite
may happen. If we don't reduce
waste, the  economic and social costs
of waste disposal will continue to
increase,  and communities-large
and small,  urban and suburban-
will face increasingly harder deci-
sions about managing their trash.
   All parts of society need to work
together to change  current patterns
of waste generation  and disposal.
The federal government  develops
and provides  information and looks
for incentives to create less waste. It
also helps  communities plan  and
carry out source reduction mea-
sures.  State, local, and tribal
governments can create  the most
appropriate source reduction mea-
sures for their areas. For example,
some communities already are
using fee systems that require
households and businesses to pay
for trash disposal based on the
amount they toss out.
   Large  consumers-manufac-
turers, retailers,  restaurants, hotels,
schools,  and  governments-can
prevent waste in a variety of ways,
including using  products that cre-
ate less trash. Manufacturers also
can design products that use fewer
hazardous components, require
less packaging, are recyclable, use
recycled materials, and result in
less waste when  they are no longer
   Individuals  can evaluate their
daily waste-producing activities to
determine those  that are essential
(such as choosing medicines and
foods packaged for safety and
health), and those that are not
(such as throwing away glass or
plastic jars that could be reused  or
locally recycled). This booklet sug-
gests many practices  that reduce
waste or help manage it more effec-
tively.  Adopt those that are right for
you and add others that you think

of yourself. Discuss your ideas with
neighbors, businesses, and other
members  of your community. It's
important to remember that all
actions will have some effect on  the
environment.  If reusable products
need to be washed, for example,
there may be an increase in water
use. Individual  consumers, however,
can substantially reduce solid waste
by following these basic principles:
         REDUCE the amount of trash discarded.
         REUSE containers and products.
         RECYCLE, use recycled materials, and compost.

         RESPOND to the solid waste dilemma by reconsidering
         waste-producing activities and by expressing preferences
         for less waste.

 1. Reduce the amount of
   unnecessary  packaging.
 2. Adopt practices that
   reduce waste  toxicitv.
 3. Consider reusable products.
 4. Maintain  and repair durable
 5. Reuse bags, containers, and
   other items.
 6. Borrow, rent, or share items
   used infrequently.
 7. Sell or donate goods instead
   of throwing them out.
 8. Choose recyclable products and
   containers and recycle them.
 9. Select products made  from
   recycled materials.
10. Compost  yard trimmings
   and some food scraps.
11. Educate  others on source reduction
   and recycling practices.  Make your
   preferences known to manufactur-
   ers,  merchants, and community
12. Be creative-find new ways to reduce
   waste quantity and toxicity.

             Reduce the amount  of

           unnecessary packaging.

  Packaging serves many purposes. Its primary pur-
pose is to protect and contain a product. It also can
prevent tampering,  provide information,  and pre-
serve hygienic integrity and freshness. Some
packaging, however, is designed largely to enhance
a product's  attractiveness or  prominence  on the
store shelf.  Since packaging materials account for a
large volume of the trash we generate, they provide
a good opportunity for reducing waste. In addition,
keep in mind  that as the amount of product in
a container, increases, the packaging waste per
serving or use usually decreases.
  •When choosing between two similar  products
    select the one with the least unnecessary
  • Remember that wrenches,  screwdrivers,  nails.
    and other hardware are often available in loose
    bins. At the grocery, consider whether it is necessary to purchase  items such
    as tomatoes, garlic, and mushrooms  in  prepackaged containers when they
    can be bought unpackaged.
  •When appropriate, use products you already have on hand to do household
    chores  (see Appendix A). Using these products call save on the packaging
    associated with additional products.
  •Recognize and support store managers when they stock products with no
    packaging or reduced packaging.  Let clerks know when it's not necessary  to
    double wrap a purchase.
  •Consider large or economysize items for household products that are used
    frequently,  such as laundry soap, shampoo, baking soda, pet foods, and cat
    litter. These sizes usually  have less packaging per unit of product. For food
    items, choose the largest size that can be used before spoiling.
  •Consider whether concentrated products are appropriate for your needs.
    They often  require less packaging and less energy to transport to the store,
    saving money as well as natural resources.
  •Whenever possible, select grocery, hardware, and household items that  are
    available in hulk. Bulk merchandise also may be shared with friends or
  *It is important to choose food servings that are  appropriate to your needs.
    One alternative to single food servings is to choose the next largest serving
    and store any leftovers in a reusable container.

       Adopt practices that  reduce

                     waste  toxicity.

   In addition to reducing the amount of materials in the solid waste stream,
reducing waste  toxicity is another important component of source reduction.
Some jobs around the home may require the use of products containing haz-
ardous  components. Nevertheless, toxicity reduction  can be  achieved by following
some simple guidelines.
   • lake actions thai use noiiha/.ai dons or less hazardous components to
    accomplish the task at hand. Examples include choosing reduced mercury
    batteries, or planting marigolds  in the garden to ward off certain pests rather
    than using pesticides. In some cases you may be using less toxic chemicals to
    do a job and in others you may use some physical method, such as sandpaper,
    scouring pads, or just a little more elbow grease, to achieve the same results.
   Learn about alternatives to household  items containing hazardous
    substances. In some cases, products that you have around the house can
    he used to do the same job as products with hazardous components. (See
    Appendix  A or check with local libraries or bookstores for guidebooks  on
    nonhazardous  household  practices.)
    If  you do need to use products with hazardous components, use only the
    amounts needed. Leftover materials can be shared with neighbors or
    donated to a business, charity, or government agency, or, in the case of used
                                        motor oil, recycled at a participating
                                        service station.  Never put leftover
                                        products with hazardous components
                                        in food or beverage containers.
                                       For products  containing hazardous
                                        components, read and follow all
                                        directions on product labels. Make
                                        sure the containers are always
                                        labelled properly and stored safely
                                        away from children and pets. When
                                        you are finished with containers that
                                        are partially full, follow local
                                        community policy on household
                                        hazardous waste disposal (see box
                                        on  "Household Hazardous Waste
                                        Collection" on the  next page). If at
                                        any time you have  questions about
                                        potentially hazardous ingredients in
                                        products and their impacts on  human
                                        health, do not hesitate to call your
                                        local poison control center.

       Household Hazardous Waste Collection

   For  leftover products containing hazardous  components,  check with
the local environmental agency or Chamber of Commerce to see if there
are any designated days in your area for collection of waste materials such
as leftover paints, pesticides, solvents, and batteries. On such days, quali-
fied professionals collect household hazardous  wastes at a central location
to ensure safe management and disposal. Some communities have perma-
nent household hazardous  waste collection facilities that accept wastes
year-round. Some collections also include exchanges of paints, solvents,
certain pesticides, cleaning and automotive products, and other materials.
Exchanges allow materials to he used by someone else, rather than being
thrown away.

    Consider  reusable  products.
                                        Many products are designed to
                                      be used more than  once. Reusable
                                      products and  containers often
                                      result in less waste.  This helps
                                      reduce  the cost of managing solid
                                      waste and often conserves materials
                                      and resources. (Remember, reus-
                                      able containers for food must be
                                      carefully cleaned to ensure moper
                                        • A sturdy mug or cup can be
                                          washed and used time and
                                          again. Many people bring their
                                          own mugs to work, meetings,
                                          and conferences.
                                          Sturdy and washable utensils
                                          and tableware can be used at
                                          home and for  picnics, outdoor
                                          parties, and potlucks.
                                        * At work, see if "recharged"
                                          cartridges for laser printers,
                                          copiers, and fax machines are
                                          available. They not only reduce
                                          waste, but also typically save
                                        * Cloth  napkins,  sponges, or
                                          dishcloths can  be used around
                               ___         the house. These can be
                                          washed over and over again.
1 Look for items that are available in refillable containers. For  example, some
 bottles and jugs for beverages and  detergents are made  to he refilled and
 reused, either by the consumer or  the manufacturer.
1 When possible, use rechargeable batteries to help reduce  garbage and to
 keep toxic metals found in some batteries out of the waste stream. Another
 alternative is to look for batteries with reduced toxic metals.
1 When using single-use items, remember to take only what is needed. For
 I'xamplt;. lake only one napkin or ketchup packet if more are not needed.
 Remember, if your goal is to reduce solid waste, think about reusables.

               Maintain and repair
                 durable products.
  If maintained and reo
products such as long-wearing clothing,
tires, and appliances are less likely to wear
out or break and will not have to be
thrown out and replaced as frequently.
Although durable products sometimes
cost more initially, their extended life
span may offset the higher cost and
even save money over the long term.
   • Consider  long-lasting  appliances
    and electronic equipment with good
    warranties. Check reports for pro-
    ducts  with a record of high consumer
    satisfaction and low breakdown rates,
    Also,  look for those products that are
    easily repaired.
    Keep appliances in good working
    order. Follow manufacturers'
    suggestions for proper operation
    and maintenance. Manufacturers'
    service departments may have
    toll-free numbers; phone
    toll-free directory assistance
    at 1-800-555-1212 to find out.
    High-quality, long-lasting tires for
    cars,  bicycle   other vehicles are
    available. Using them reduces the rate at which tit-es are replaced and
    disposed of. Also, to extend tire life, check tire pressure once a month, follow
    the manufacturer's recommendations for  upkeep, and rotate tires routinely.
    In addition, retread and remanufactured tires can reduce tire waste.
    Mend clothes instead of throwing them away. Where possible, repair worn
    shoes, boots, handbags, and briefcases.
    Whenever intended for use over a long period of time, choose furniture,
    luggage, sporting goods, toys, and tools that will stand up to vigorous use.
   • Consider using low-energy fluorescent light bulbs rather than incandescent
    ones. 'They'll last longer, which means fewer bulbs are thrown out, and cost
    less to replace over time.

           Reuse  bags,  containers,

                   and other  items.

   Many everyday items can have more than
one use. Before discarding bags, containers,
and other items, consider if it is hygienic and
practical to reuse them. Reusing products
extends their lives, keeping them out of the
solid waste stream longer. Adopt the ideas that
work for you, add some of your own, and then
challenge others in your school, office, and
community to try these ideas and to come up
with others.
   • Reuse paper and plastic bags and twist
    ties. If it's practical, keep a supply of bags
    on hand to use on the next shopping
    trip, or take a string, mesh, or canvas tote
    bag to the store. When a reusable bag is
    not on hand and only one or two items are
    being purchased, consider whether you need a bag at all.
   - Reuse scrap paper and envelopes. Use both sides of a piece of paper for
    writing notes before recycling it. Save and reuse gift boxes, ribbons, and
    larger pieces of wrapping and tissue paper. Save packaging, colored paper,
    egg cartons, and other items for reuse or for arts and crafts projects at day-
    care facilities, schools, youth facilities, and senior citizen centers. Find other
    uses or homes for old draperies, bedding, clothing, towels, and cotton
    diapers. Then cut up what's left for use as patchwork, rags, doll clothes,
    rag rugs, or other projects.
   • Reuse newspaper, boxes, packaging "peanuts," and "bubble wrap" to ship
    packages. Brown paper bags are excellent for  wrapping parcels,
   • Wash and reuse empty glass and plastic jars, milkjugs, coffee cans, dairy tubs,
    and other similar containers that otherwise get thrown out. These  containers
    can be used to store leftovers as well as buttons, nails, and thumbtacks. An
    empty coffee can makes a fine flower pot.
   • Turn used lumber into birdhouses, mailboxes, compost bins, or other
    woodworking projects.
   CAUTION: Do not reuse containers that originally held products such as
motor oil or pesticides. These containers and their potentially harmful residues
should be discarded  (following manufacturers' instructions on the label) as soon
as they are empty. When you no longer have a use for a full or partially full con-
tainer, take it to a community household hazardous waste collection. Also, never
store anything potentially harmful in containers designed for food or beverages.
Always label containers and store them out of the reach of children and  pets,

      Borrow, rent,  or  share  items

                used  infrequently.

  Seldom-used items, like certain power tools and party goods, often collect dust,
rust, take up valuable storage space, and ultimately end up in the trash. Consider
renting or borrowing these items the next time they're needed. Infrequently used
items also might be shared among neighbors, friends, or family. Borrowing, rent-
 ing, or sharing items saves both money and natural resources.
      • Rent or borrow party decorations and supplies such as tables, chairs,
         centerpieces, linens, dishes, and silverware.
            Rent or borrow seldom-used audiovisual equipment.
              Rent or borrow tools such as ladders, chain saws, floor buffers,
                         rug cleaners, and garden tillers. In apartment
                         buildings or co-ops, residents  can pool resources
                         and form "banks" to share tools or other «

used or needed infrequently. In addition, S()'1K1
communities have  "tool libraries" where r'esidents
can borrow equipment as needed.

 • Before discarding old tools, camera equipment,
     or other goods, ask friends, relatives,
       neighbors, or  community groups if they can
        use them.
         * Share newspapers and magazines
             others to extend the lives of the'st-
               items and reduce the generation
                of waste paper.

      Sell or  donate  goods instead
            of throwing them  out.
  One person's trash is another person's treasure. Instead of discarding
unwanted appliances, tools, or clothes, try selling or donating them. Opting for
used and "irregular" items is another good way to practice source reduction. Such
products are often Jess expensive than new or "first-quality" items, and using them
will keep them from being thrown away.

   • Donate or resell items to thrift stores or other organizations in need. Donors
    sometimes receive tax deductions or even cash. These organizations typically
    take everything from clothes and textiles to appliances and furniture. All
    should be clean and of respectable quality.
   • Sell secondhand items at fairs, bazaars, swap meets, and garage sales.

   • Give hand-me-down clothes to family members, neighboring Families, or the
    needy. Consider acquiring used clothing at thrift or consignment shops. The
    condition of used  clothing in these stores is screened: clothes are typically
    laundered and cannot have tears or  stains.
   • Consider conducting a food or- clothing drive to help others. Where
    appropriate, encourage area merchants to donate damaged goods or food
	items that are still edible to food banks, shelters, and other groups that care
    lor the needy.

  Choose recyclable products  and

      containers  and recycle them.,

  When you've done all you can to avoid
waste, recycle. Producing goods from recy-
cled materials  typically consumes less
energy and conserves raw materials. Yet,
our landfills are packed with many pack-
ages and products that can be recycled.
   • Consider products made of materials
    that are collected for recycling
    locally; in many communities, this
    includes glass, aluminum, steel, some
    paper and cardboard, and  certain
    plastics. Check with appropriate
    community officials, volunteer
    groups, or recycling businesses
    to determine what materials are
    collected for recycling. If a system
    is not in place to return a certain type
    of material, that material is not easily "recyclable,.'
   • Participate in community recycling drives, curbside programs, and drop-off
    collections. Call community officials, the local recycling center, or a nearby
    recycling  business to find out if and how materials should be separated. For
    example,  some communities require that glossy inserts be segregated from
    newspaper, and that different types  of cans be separated. A magnet can be
    used to distinguish steel or bimetal cans from aluminum cans (a magnet does
    not stick to aluminum). Also, investigate curbside pickup schedules, deter-
    mine what materials are accepted, locate drop-off sites, and find out when
    these sites are open.
   • If a recycling program does not exist in your community, participate in
    establishing one. Call local salvage operators to see if they will accept or pick
    up materials for recycling. Work with community officials to determine the
    most cost-effective recycling options for your area.
   • Take used car batteries  ("lead-acid batteries"), antifreeze, and motor oil
    (saved in clean nonbreakable containers)  to participating automobile service
    centers and other places that collect these items for recycling.
   • As more businesses and organizations provide collection opportunities,
    take advantage of them. For example, many grocery stores collect bags for

                 The Degradables Debate
   One of the biggest debates in solid waste has centered on claims that
certain products such as some plastic bags, paper products, and other
goods are degradable. Are such products helpful in solving the solid waste
dilemma? Do they save landfill space?
   In truth, degradation occurs very slowly in modern landfills. Sunlight
can't penetrate,  so photodegradation can't occur. Furthermore, research-
ers have unearthed cabbages, carrots, and readable newspapers that have
been in landfills for 30 years or more. It is  unlikely that products marketed
as degradable would achieve better results. Even if biodegradable prod-
ucts  do perform exactly as they are supposed to, they still use
up resources that could  be reclaimed through recycling.
   Biodegradability of natural materials such as lawn trimmings and
some foods does have a place in solid waste management. That place is
composting (see tip #10). Whether in the backyard or in community facili-
ties,  composting can take advantage of degradability. This is nature's way
of recycling organic material into humus that enriches soil and returns
nutrients to the  earth

1. The life
of a peanut
butter jar begins
on the supermarket
shelf, filled with your
favorite  brand.  When emptied
and cleaned out.  vou and
your family can use it in
many practical  ways.
                                                             2. It's a perfect container for displaying
                                                             a prized marble collection
       9. When you collect too  many
       peanut  butter jars, be sure to
       recycle  the extras. They  may
       be used to manufacture  new
       peanut  butter jars or other
                   10. Then use it to show
                   off the  beautiful flowers
                   you  picked for the
                   dinner table when the
                   fishing  is done.

                                                                          4. And to mix a batch
                                                                          of concentrated juice.
                               It can be used to
                               store leftovers...
                                                         5. It can be taken back
                                                         to the store to buy
                                                         foods in bulk, such as
                                                         honey, maple syrup,
                                                         and even more peanut
7. Take the jar on your
next fishing trip to
carry live bait.
6. The jars also make
great cookie cutters.

       Select products  made from

                recycled materials.

  Participating in a local or regional recycling program is only part of the recy-
cling process. For recycling to succeed, recyclable materials must be processed
into new products, and those products must be purchased and used,
  • Look for items in packages and containers made of recycled materials. Many
    bottles, cans, paper wrappings, hags, cereal boxes, and other cartons and
    packages are made from recycled materials.
  • Use products with recycled content whenever you can. For instance, many
    paper, glass, metal, and plastic products contain recovered materials. Some
    examples are stationer!; wrapping paper, computer paper, and many
    containers. Many of these items arc available in grocery, drug, and other
    retail stores. Mail-order catalogues, stationers, and print shops also may stock
    these and other recycled items.
  • When checking- products for recycled content, look for a statement that
    recycled materials were used and, if possible, choose the item with the largest
    percentage of recycled content, if known. You can also call directory
    assistance at 1-800-555-1212 to  obtain manufacturers' 800  numbers to find
    out how much recycled material  their products contain.
  • Encourage state and local government agencies, local businesses, and others
    to purchase  recycled products such as paper, re-refined oil, and retread tires
    For the federal government, guidelines all-ready exist that mandate the
    purchase of these and other products.
                                                      1 BOTTLES

          Reducing Unwanted Advertising Mail

   Each year, millions of Americans make one or more purchases through
the mail When people make these mail-order purchases, their names
often are added to a list and marketed to other companies that do busi-
ness through the mail. While many people enjoy the catalogues they
receive as a result of these lists, those who would like to receive less
national advertising mail can ask companies not to rent or share their
names with other mailers. People who choose not to shop at home  can
also write to:
  Mail Preference Service
  Direct Marketing Association
  P.O. Box 9008
  Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008

  The Mail Preference Service is a no-charge service that removes names
from many national mailing lists. Individuals who would like to use this
service are requested to provide their names and addresses  (including zip
code), and any spelling variations they have noticed on mailing labels,
to the Mail Preference Service.
  It may take a few months before there is a noticeable decrease in the
amount of national advertising mail delivered. In addition, local advertis-
ing mail, such as store flyers, will not be affected. In these cases,  people
can  write directly to the mailer and request that their names be removed
from the mailing list.
  To keep your name off
unwanted mailing lists, contact
mail-order companies (and other
organizations) to let them know
that you do not want your name
and address  shared with other
businesses and organizations. In
this way, you can still order by
mail and belong to charitable
organizations  without worrying
that the amount of unsolicited
receive will

         Compost yard trimmings
           and some food scraps.
  Backyard composting of certain food scraps and yard trimmings can
significantly reduce the amount of waste that needs to be managed by the local
government or put in a landfill. When properly composted, these wastes can be
turned into natural soil additives for use on lawns and gardens, and used as pot-
ting, soil for house plants. Finished compost can improve soil texture, increase the
ability of the soil to absorb air and water, suppress weed growth, decrease erosion,
and reduce the need to apply commercial soil additives.

  • Learn how to compost food scraps and yard trimmings (see the guidelines on
    the next page).  For more information, consult reference materials on
    composting, or check with local environmental,  agricultural,  or park services.
    Composting foods in highly  populated areas is not recommended because it
    can attract rodents and other pests.
  • Participate in local or regional programs that collect compostable materials.
    If no program is in place, contact public officials and community leaders
    about setting one up.

  • If there's no room for a compost pile, offer compostable materials to
    community composting programs or garden projects near you.
  • If you have a yard, allow mown grass clippings to remain on the lawn to
    decompose and return nutrients back to the soil, rather than bagging and
    disposing of them.


                      Composting Is  Easy!

   A compost pile can be set up in a corner of the yard with few supplies.
Choose a level spot about 3- to 5-feet square near a water source and prefer-
ably out of direct sunlight. Clear the area of sod and grass. When building a
composting bin, such as with chicken wire, scrap wood, or cinder blocks, he
sure to leave enough space for air to reach the pile. One removable side
makes it easier to tend the pile.
   Many foods can be composted, including vegetable trimmings, egg
shells, coffee grounds with filters, and tea bags. In addition to leaves, grass,
and yard clippings, vacuum cleaner lint, wool and cotton rags, sawdust,
shredded newspaper, and fireplace ashes can be composted.  DO  NOT
compost meats, dairy foods,  or any fats, oil, or grease because they can
attract pests.
   Start the pile with a 4-inch layer of leaves, loose soil, or other coarse yard
trimmings. If you are going to compost food scraps (a slightly more
involved process), you should mix them with yard trimmings when adding
them to the pile. Alfalfa meal or clean cat litter may be added to the pile to
absorb odors. In dry weather, sprinkle water on the pile, but  don't get it too
soggy, Turn the pile every few weeks with a pitchfork to circulate air and
distribute moisture evenly. Don't be surprised by the heat of  the pile or if
you see worms, both of which are part of the decomposition  process. Make
sure children do not play in the  composting pile or bin.
   In most climates, the compost is done in 3 to 6 months when it becomes
a dark crumbly material that is uniform in texture. Spread it  in the garden
or yard  beds or under the shrubbery. The compost also can be used as
potting  soil.

       Educate  others  on source

reduction and  recycling practices.

 Make  your preferences  known to

       manufacturers,   merchants,

        and  community  leaders.

                       Share information about source reduction, recy-
                      cling, and composting with others.
                      Spread the word to family, friends, neighbors,
                      local businesses, and decision-makers. Encourage
                      them to learn more about solid waste issues and
                      to work toward implementing and promoting
                      source reduction, recycling, and composting.
                      all have the power to influence others and help
                      create the type of world in which we want to live.
                        • Consider writing to companies to encourage
                          them to reduce unnecessary packaging and
                          the use of hazardous components in
                          products. In addition, let companies know
                          when they've made positive changes. Many
                          companies offer toll-free 800 numbers you
                          can call with these comments.
                        • Encourage source reduction, recycling, and
                          composting programs for yard trimmings in
                          the community.
                         • Where appropriate, encourage the use of
                          reusable, recycled, and recyclable materials
                          in the workplace.
                        • Encourage the use of efficient, long-lasting
  • Urge schools to provide environmental education and to teach about source
   reduction, recycling, and composting.
  • Support an environmentally sound waste program in your community that
   starts with source reduction. Your community also needs access to adequate
   and safe solid waste facilities such as recycling and composting center
   combustors, and landfills.

    Be creative—find new ways  to

reduce waste  quantity and toxicity.

  There are many ways to reduce the amount and the toxicity of solid waste. By
thinking creatively, many new uses for common items and new possibilities for
source reduction and recycling can be discovered. Here are just a few ideas, Now,
try some of your own!
   Turn a giant cardboard  box into
    a child's playhouse.
   Transform a plastic ice  cream
    tub into a flower pot.
   • Give pet hamsters or gerbils paper
    towel and  toilet paper cardboard
    tubes with which to play. Use an
    egg carton to plant seedlings.
   Turn used  tires  (not steel-belted)
    into  children's swings or other
    playground equipment.
   Select nontoxic inks
    and art supplies.
   Combine source reduction
    techniques. For  example,
    try storing coffee bought in
    bulk in empty coffee cans.
   Choose beverages such
    as water or milk in
    reusable containers,
    where appropriate.
   Place an order through  the mail
    with a group of  people in
    order to save money and
    reduce packaging waste.

  It's far IK-UCT lo reduce the toxidiv and amount of solid \\asic in ihe
first place than to cope with it after it has been created. Through source
reduction, recycling, and composting, many environmental benefits an
cost savings can be realized, Just remember the four  "R's"....
               REDUCE the amount of trash discarded.
               REUSE containers and products.

               RECYCLE, use recycled products, and compost.
               RESPOND to the solid waste dilemma by reconsidering
               waste-producing activities and by expressing preferences
               for less waste.

    Success with  Source  Reduction

   People from small towns and big cities across America are implementing
innovative source reduction programs and arc realizing economic as well as
environmental  benefits.
   You can encourage and support these changes in your community by working
with civic groups, local merchants, and  county boards.  Through consumer  educa-
tion campaigns, school curricula, economic incentives, and other legislative,
financial, and educational measures, your community can set the pace for new
   ways to reduce solid waste. Here are a few examples of how communities and
   businesses are reducing waste.

Model Communities

   In a growing number of Illinois  communities, facilities ranging from industries
to schools are practicing source reduction by following the lead of community
role models. The Central States  Education Center (CSEC), a nonprofit
environmental group, has developed a Model Community Program to help
communities find ways to reduce waste, eliminate toxins, recycle, and purchase
products that contain recycled materials. Through this  program, businesses,
organizations, and other groups  serve as source reduction role models in their
communities. The facilities institutionalize various source reduction strategies
through in-house committees and on-going educational programs.
   Several schools, industries, churches and other organizations participate  in this
program. In a model industry, for example, solvent recycling machines are  used
to make solvents last three times longer. Model supermarkets have a shelf-labeling
program to highlight products with less packaging. Additional model facilities
include churches, banks, libraries, a radio station, a utility company, newspapers,
a theater, a sorority, and even a city hall. At present there are over 70 model facili-
ties in eight different Illinois communities.
   As a result of these model facilities, less waste is generated in the participating
communities, and much of what  is  generated gets routed to the community recy-
cling center, rather than the landfill. For example, one model school reduced
cafeteria waste by 40 percent. Interest in the program is growing nationwide as
communities use the model  program to educate citizens and get them involved
in reducing their solid waste.

Berkeley—Doing It Right from the Start

   Berkeley, California, implemented a citywide campaign to help consumers
make environmentally sound decisions. The City uses catchy slogans, such
as "do it right from the start," "be picky about packaging," and "overcome over-
packaging," to urge shoppers to think about how products are packaged and
              ultimately disposed  of.  Consumers  tell manufacturers which  prod-
                                     ucts they want to use and which products
                                     they don't want by leaving them on
                                      store  shelves.
                                         The initiatives under this program have
                                      grown as businesses and residents have
                                      embraced the concept. The program now
                                       includes an educational campaign  direct-
                                       ed at elementary schools. An environ-
                                       mental  education curriculum ha
                                        developed, as well as a training
                                        program, to help teachers incorporate
                                         recycling  and other environmental
                                         messages into their science  lessons.
                                         Other recent initiatives involve city
                                          supermarkets, which have  printed
                                          recycling tips on their grocery bags.
                                           Some supermarkets also offer a
                                           discount to shoppers who bring
                                           their own hags or containers.
                                            Finally, a composting program
                                            offers subsidizing composting bins
                                            to Berkeley residents to  encourage
                                             home  composting.


Source Reduction—Savings for Business

   More and more businesses, large and small, at-e realizing that source reduction
can mean a big payoff in reduced waste and costs. For example, a small news-
paper in Grand Rapids, Minnesota,  the Herald Review, has reduced its waste by
almost 30,000 pounds annually, which saves over $18,000 per year. Everyone joins
in to reduce waste, from reporters switching to narrow-ruled notebooks to save
paper, to photographers saving film by planning the number of exposures they
need before shooting.
   In the office, people reuse mailing labels, rebuild toner cartridges for com-
puter printers, and print on both sides of the paper. A ceramics  packaging firm
has even been found to purchase the paper left over from the printing process,
This "waste exchange"  benefits both  companies. The newspaper  also has found
ways to reuse waste ink, film-developing chemicals, and paste-up sheets. These
innovative ideas reduce both the  amount and the toxicity of the company's wastes,
   A large furniture manufacturer, Herman Miller, Inc. (HMI) of Zeeland,
Michigan, has reaped savings of  $1.4 million  annually through waste prevention.
It devised packaging containers that can be reused 80 to 100 times and that are
made from recycled detergent and  milk containers.
   Another approach HMI uses is cartonless  packaging. This means just placing
cardboard edges on the corners of  some furniture and wrapping the furniture
with plastic film rather than boxing it. The cardboard edges are  reused and the
plastic film is recycled. This practice has saved HMI $250,000 a year for one type
of product. In addition to internal efforts, HMI cosponsors an annual waste
exchange fair for other businesses to share information and materials. Workshops
are also held to educate attendees about waste prevention. The first fair brought
together over 300 people and was so successful that attendance tripled at the sec-
ond  one.


                        Appendix A
Source Reduction Alternatives Around the Home
  Manv consumers look for wavs to reduce the amount and loxicity of waste
around the house. This can be dune, in some cases, by using alternative- methods
or products without hazardous constituents to accomplish a certain (ask. licit- are
just a few ideas to get you started.
  Drain cleaner
  Oven cleaner
  Glass cleaner

  Toilet howl cleaner

  Furniture polish

  Rug deodori/er

  Silver polish
  Plant sprays

  Flea and tick
Use a plunger or plumber's snake.
Clean spills as soon as ihe oven cools using steel
wool and baking soda; for lough stains, add salt (do
not use this method in self-cleaning or
continuous-cleaning ovens).
Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in 1 quart
of water. Spray on and use newspaper to wipe dry.

Use a toilet brush and baking soda or vinegar.
(This will clean but not disinfect.)
Mix 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in 1 pint of mineral or
vegetable oil, and wipe furniture.

Deodorize dry carpets by sprinkling liberally with
baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes and vacuum.
Repeat if necessary.
Boil 2 to 3 inches of water in a shallow- pan with 1
teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a
sheet of aluminum foil. Totally submerge silver and
boil for 2 to 3 more minutes. Wipe away tarnish.
Repeat if necessary. (Do not use this method  on
antique silver knives. The blade will separate from the
handle.) Another alternative is to use nonabrasive
Wipe leaves with mild soap and water; rinse.

Use cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint,
or white peppercorns.
Put brewer's yeast or garlic in your pet's food;
sprinkle fennel, rue, rosemary, or eucalyptus
seeds or leaves around animal sleeping areas.
   Although ihe suggested mixtures have less ha/ardous ingredients than many
commercial cleaners and pesticide's, ihey should be used and stored with similar
caution. Please follow these guidelines for any household cleaner or pesticide.

   •  DO NOT mix anything with a commercial cleaning agent.

   »  If you do store a homemade mixture, make sure it is properly labelled and
     do not store it in a container that could be mistaken for a food or beverage.

   •  When preparing alternatives, mix only what is needed for the job at hand
     and mix them in clean, reusable containers. This avoids waste and the need
     lo store any (leaning mixture.


                          Appendix  B
Reusable Vocabulary
Bimetal - Typically refers to beverage containers with steel bodies and aluminum
   tops. Steel companies do recycle bimetal cans, but they are handled  differently
   in the recycling stream from aluminum cans.
Combustion -The  controlled burning of municipal solid waste to reduce volume,
   and, commonly, to recover energy.
Composting -The  controlled  microbial decomposition of  organic matter  (such
   as food scraps  and yard trimmings) in the presence of oxygen into a humus-
   or soil-like material.

Curbside collection -A method  of collecting recyclable materials  at individual
   homes or places of business by municipal or private parties for transfer
   to a designated collection  site or recycling facility.
Drop-off -A method of collecting recyclable materials where individuals transport
   the materials to a designated collection site.
Household hazardous  waste -Products  containing hazardous substances that
   are used and disposed of by individual rather than industrial consumers.
   These products include some paints, solvents, and pesticides.

Integrated waste management - The complementary use of a variety of practices
   to handle municipal solid  waste safely and effectively. Integrated waste man-
   agement techniques  include source  reduction, recycling, composting,
   combustion, and landfilling.
Landfilling -The disposal of solid waste at engineered facilities  in a series of
   compacted layers on land and the frequent daily covering of the waste with
   soil. Fill areas  are carefully prepared to prevent nuisances or  public health
   hazards, and clay and/or synthetic liners are used to prevent  releases to
   ground water.
Municipal solid waste (MSW) - Waste  generated in  households,  commercial
   establishments, institutions,  and businesses. MSW includes  used  paper,
   discarded cans and bottles, food scraps, yard trimmings, and  other items.
   Industrial process wastes, agricultural wastes, mining wastes, and sewage
   sludge are not  MSW.
Pre-consumer  materials - Recovered  materials  obtained from manufacturers.

Post-consumer materials - Recovered materials from a  consumer-oriented
   recycling collection system or drop-off center.
Recyclable - Products or  materials that can be  collected, separated, and processed
   to be used as raw materials  in the manufacture of new  products.

Recycled  content - The portion of a product's or package's weight that is
   composed of materials that have been recovered from waste;  this may include
   pre-consumer  or  post-consumer  materials.

Recycling Separating, collecting,  processing, marketing,  and ultimately using
   a material that would have been  thrown away.

   Reuse-  The use of  a product more than once in its same form for the same pur-
   pose or for different  purposes, such as reusing  a soft-drink bottle when
   it is returned  to the  bottling company for refilling, or reusing a coffee can
   as  a container for  nuts and bolts.
   Source reduction -  The design,  manufacture,  purchase, or use of materials
   to  reduce the amount or toxicity of waste.  Because it  is intended to reduce
   pollution  and  conserve  resources,  source  reduction should  not increase  he
   net amount or toxicity of wastes generated throughout the life of the  product.
   Source reduction  techniques include  reusing  items,  minimizing the use
   of  products that contain  hazardous compounds, using only what is needed,
   extending the useful life of a  product, and reducing  unneeded packaging.

Source separation  Separating materials  (such as paper,  metal, and glass)  by  type
   at  the  point of discard so that they can he recycled.
        Toxic- Ability  (or property) of a substance to produce harmful or lethal effects
        on humans and/or the environment.

Virgin materials -  Resources extracted  from nature  in their raw  form, such as
   timber or metal ore.

Yard trimmings 'The  component of solid waste composed of grass clippings,
             leaves, twigs, branches, and garden refuse.

                           Appendix  C
EPA Resources
   [lie following FPA publications are available at no charge through the
Agency's R( :RA  I Ii.tlitie. (.all 800 424-9346 Monday through Friday'.):()() a.m. to
(i:00 p.m. KST. For the hearing impaired, the number is 111) SOO 5r>3-7<>72.

Source Keducliitn Hthliosrmphy (FPA/530-B-95-011). A document compiling
   information on source reduction resources published since- 19K9.

Cimmctfrizatnni ofMitnittfxd Solid \\mte in thf I 'nited States: 1995 Update, Executive
   &«/™«n-30-R-9.VI)i>3). A guide hxx>k to help policy makers understand and  evalu-
   aie their current uasle managemeni problems and formulate possible solutions.

Envinnimmtfil Fact Sheet: Yard \\h<,t<- Cb»^asto^-(EPA/580-SW-91-009), A tacl sheet
   defining unii|»sting, theroni|josting pnicess, and hin\ compost can be used.

Environmental Fact Sheet: tieiyclhifr Gire« Cli/ifmiff. (EPV530-F-92-OI2). A fact sheet
   explaining why it is beneficial to leave grass dippings on your lawn.

Plastics Fad Sheets. A series of five fact sheets about plastics:
    . /'/rtv(«-.v: Thf Fart* nlxmt Pmducliim. i'\i; rind /Xv/xW(EPA/530-SW-90-OI7A).
      A I;let sheet reviewing major uses of plastics and impacts of disposal.

    . Thf Facts alxmi I'laslirs in tlu' Marine Emmnnwnl (Kl).V5,'50-S\V-9(»-017B>.
      A tatt shtK't summarizing the main sources and impact of plastics found in
      the ocean.
    . Phrtirs: The Facts mi Source  Rnlwlion (EPA/530-SW-9CWM7O. A fact sheet
      describing the possibilities  for source reduction of difiereni types of plastic

   . Thf. Facts mi Itegrudable Plastics (EPA/530-SVV-90-017D). A  fact sheet outlining
      the informal ion currently available on degradable plastics, their uses, and their
      impacts on people and the  environment.
   • The Facts on lirryr.lhig Plastics (EPA/58Q-SW-90-Q17E). A fai i sheet summarizing the
      opportunities available for recycling plastics, and the current state of plastic recy-
      cling tec hiiology.
Recycle Today! A series of five publications aimed at educators and students:
   . Recycle Today! An Educational Program for Grades K-12 (EPA/530-SW-90-025). A
      concise pamphlet explaining the goals and objectives of EPA's educational
      recycling  program and the four resources  listed below.

      Let's Reduce and Recyck! A Curriculum for Solid Waste Awareness (EPA/530-SW-90-
      005). A booklet of lessons and activities to teach students in grades K-12 about solid
      waste generation and management. It teaches a variety of skills, including science,
      vocabulary mathematics,  and  creative  writing.

   .  School Recycling Programs: A Handbook for Educators  (EPA/530-SW-90-023).
      A handy manual with step-by-step instructions  on how to  set up a school recycling

      Adventures of the  Garbage  Gremlin: Recycle and Combat a Life of Grime (EPA/530-  SW-
      90-024). A comic book introducing students in grades 4-7 to the benefits of recy-

   •  Ride  the Wave of the Future: Recycle Today!  (EPA/530-SW-90-010).  A colorful poster
      designed to appeal to  all grade levels that can  be displayed in conjunction with
      recycling activities or used to  help  foster recycling.

   Recyck: You Can, Make a Ton  of difference (EPA/530-F-92-003). A concise citizen's
   brochure on recycling and its role in solid waste management.

Rcycle:  You Can Make a Ton of Difference  (EPA/530-N-92-001).  A  colorful  poster.

Reusable News. A periodic newsletter covering a diverse array of  topics  related to
   municipal solid waste management, including source  reduction and  recycling

Household Hazardous Waste: Steps to Safe Management (EPA/530-F-92-031  ).  A  short
   brochure explaining what household hazardous waste is and how to  manage
   it properly.

Unit Pricing Providing an Incentive to Reduce Municipal Solid Waste (EPA/530-SW-91-
   005). A booklet describing unit pricing systems in which customers are
   charged  for waste collection and  disposal services based on  the amount
   of trash they  generate.

Pay as You Throw: Lesson  Learned  About Unit Pricing  (EPA/530-R-94-004). An
   easy-to-read guide to  help local solid  waste planners, elected officials and
   community and civic  groups determine if pay-as-you-throw is a viable option in
   their community and how to implement it.

Used Oil Recycling Publications. A series of three brochures and  a manual on ways
   to recycle used  oil:

     How to Set  Up a Local Used Oil Recycling Program (EPA/530-SW-89-039A).  An easy-to-
      follow manual for  local  decision-makers,  environmental groups,  and  community

   . Recycling Used Oil: What Can You Do? (EPA/530-SW-89-039B). A  pamphlet  describ-
      ing how the general public can participate in used oil recycling.

   •  Collecting Used Oil for Recycling/Reuse: Tips for Consumers who Change Their Own Motor
      Oil and Oil Filters (EPA/530-F-94-008). A brochure providing information  on
      changing your  own motor oil, recycling used oil, changing and recycling your own
      oil filter, and safeguarding the environment.

   •  Recycling Used Oil: For Service  Stations and Other Vehicle-Service Facilities  (EPA/530SW-
      89-039D). A pamphlet  describing how service station owners can  play  a key role in
      facilitating  used  oil recycling.