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Rethink Waste

Tips on how to rethink waste by reducing consumption, repairing items, repurposing, and recycling.

In the United States, each person generates 4.51 of waste per day. In 2017, on average we recycled and composted 1.58 pounds of that waste. The United States is the #1 trash-producing country in the world.  This means 4% of the world’s people generate 12% of the world’s garbage. What you throw out does matter.  Our landfills can only hold so much garbage.  It is important to be PROACTIVE and cut back on the amount of trash you produce.

In a 2017 survey of the Greenest States, Georgia ranked 30th in the nation.  Georgians tossed about 2.6 million tons of items that could be recycled with an estimated market value over $300 milion.  Recycling is good for the environment and Georgia’s economy.

Recycling is great, but the best ways to reduce waste are to buy less, use items longer, buy used items, and repair, reuse, or repurpose items.

Reduce

Buying fewer products is the best way to reduce waste. There are several other things you can do.

  • Buy products that can be reused like rechargeable batteries, microfiber cloths for cleaning, and a cloth lunch bag.
  • Switch from paper towels and napkins to cloth.
  • Make your own home cleaning products.
  • Avoid buying products with excessive packaging. Opt for larger or refillable containers.
  • Go paperless. Subscribe to receive magazines, newspapers, and bills online.
  • For more information read the UGA publication Rethink Waste: Reduce.

Repair

When something breaks and wears out, spend time revitalizing or mending items instead of throwing them out. This reduces both waste and consumption.

Reuse and Repurpose

Give old items a new use. These may be items you have in your home or used items you purchase at thrift or consignment stores. When purchasing and repurposing items there are some things to keep in mind to keep you and your household health.

For more information on buying used furniture and repurposing items, visit the UGA GreenWay Pinterest pages.

Recycle

Recycle when you cannot repair an item or you no longer have a use for it.  Below are some suggestions for how to share items with others. If that doesn't work then compost or recycle them.  Your goal should be to reduce your trash to a one gallon bucket or less.  

  • Donate clothing and items to charitable organizations.
  • Pass along books and puzzles.
  • Organize a community swap and share with others the partial containers of paint and varnish.
  • Share magazines with community organizations, libraries, hospitals, or others with waiting rooms.
  • Learn where you can recycle items in your community, including electronics and packing materials at Earth911.
  • Compost your food and yard waste. Learn more about composting from UGA Extension and the University of Florida.
  • eWaste -  On average, Americans own about 24 electronic products per household. In the U.S. we through away around $55 billion in e-waste each year. Many of these products contain copper, silver, palladium, and gold that could be recovered by recycling.
  • Make Recycling Easy:

  • Centralize recycling bins
  • Clearly label bins if you need to separate
  • Know your community’s recycling practices
  • When doubt, don’t throw it out!
  • Remember to compost

What can be recycled?

Cardboard Glass Bottles & Jars w/o lids
Magazines Aluminum cans
Catalogs Aluminum foil & trays
Newspapers Plastic Bottles & Jugs
Phone Books Plastic Food Trays & Cups
Junk Mail Plastic Containers
Milk Cartons Rigid Plastics
Juice Boxes Emptly Aerosol cans w/o lids

For more on recycling read the UGA publication - Rethink Waste: Recycle.

Conserve Energy

  • An item made from recycled metal uses about half the energy to produce than a product from new material
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a TV or computer for about three hours
  • FIve recycled plastic bottles make enough fiberfill to stuff a ski jacket

Conserve Water

  • Five pounds of paper conserves enough water to offset water used in a typical shower

Clean in 10 minutes

Greener Living Tips

Green Cleaning Recipes

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