Green Tips!: Reduce, Reuse, Extend, Recycle

This week’s Green Tips are focused on municipal waste and what we can do to reduce the amount that goes to the landfills. We produce around a half a billion pounds of municipal solid waste, or garbage, a year. That means that we throw away roughly 5 pounds of stuff a day and can easily generate 150 pounds of garbage a month! I’m sure some of you are wondering what we can do to get those numbers down and the solution is pretty simple. Paper products make up about %33 of municipal solid waste and are some of the most recyclable products. Yard waste and food scraps come in second at about %13 and can be composted and used to fortify soil. Some good news is about 1/3rd of the materials destined for landfills are being recycled! More and more curbside recycling programs, drop-off centers, buy-back programs, and deposit systems are popping up everyday.

Paper or plastic? Packaging and containers made from paper and plastic make up about %30 of waste generated in the U.S. Fortunately about %40 of it is being reused and recycled! To take an even greener step buy products that don’t over package their products. Buy products that are not shrink wrapped, and that don’t have layers of packaging such as trays inside the containers and multiple layers of blister wrap.

Waste is measured by weight, not volume. And by weight we use a lot more paper than plastic, but by volume we use more plastic than paper. So which should we choose?

  • Paper is a renewable resource, it’s made from trees. Plastic is not, it’s made from petroleum.
  • Paper is biodegradable; plastic is not.
  • We use more paper than plastic but we also recycle more paper then plastic

So, even though paper takes up more space in the landfill, it’s easier to recycle than plastic and is also compostable. So when in doubt choose paper packaging and always choose paper grocery bags (or bring a reusable one). Although paper is the wiser choice it does come with a cost to the environment as well. Here are some tips for choosing paper products wisely:

  •  Limit your use of disposable paper products like napkins, paper towels, paper plates, and paper cups.
  • Limit magazine subscriptions. Most magazines can be read online now.
  • Reuse non recyclable paper products (the slick, glossy kind) as packing material.
  • Buy products with packaging made from recycled materials.
  • And, of course, recycle everything you can!


To make this whole recycling process easier to understand here are the 4 Golden Rules of Recycling:

1. Reduce:

  • Choose products wisely. Buy from the bulk section of grocery stores whenever you can. Less packaging, less waste.
  • Choose high-quality products with less packaging. If you do buy packaged goods make sure the packaging is made from recycled materials, less toxic materials, reclaimed materials, and biodegradable materials.

2. Reuse:

  • Choose fabric over paper. Such as reusable shopping bags.
  • Use reusable coffee mugs and water bottles. BPA free of course.
  • Use reusable coffee filters.
  • Write with refillable pens and pencils.
  • Use fabric or non-toxic shower curtains.


3. Extend:

  • Maintain and repair your clothing and your car.
  • Use your vacuum gently.
  • Maintain household appliances.
  • Remember all of these products can end up in a landfill as well, and some of them (if not all of them) can be filled with toxins.


4. Recycle and compost!:

  •  Recycle packaging
  • Compost everything you can. Anything plant based can be composted and you can find a wealth of information about composting on the internet and in books.
  • Recycle or donate used electronics and appliances.


One more thing you can do is drop off your used or non working electronics at The Center of Harmony! We are a drop off site for a free electronic recycling service called eLoop LLC.

eLoop LLC is a PA DEP permitted demanufacturing facility that can provide a transparent chain of custody from the time the end of life assets leave your facility, through the demanufacturing process, to the downstream vendors that trade the commodities. eLoop LLC is a pledged e-Steward with the Basel Action Network and we comply with the Recycling Industry Operating Standards (RIOS) as outlined by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

  • Landfill avoidance of 98% of all material
  • Nothing is processed by Prison Labor
  • No untested / non-working electronic equipment is exported to developing countries
  • All reclaimed commodity grade materials are resoldBest of all,  This service is FREE and we accept drop offs 24/7!  It is a service that the Center Of Harmony is proud to provide to the community and businesses.   If you have have larger or more complex business needs, please contact us for more details on additional services available. Follow this link for more info:’s easier being green than you think 🙂

    “I am convinced that once we pass beyond the mere awareness of impending disaster and begin to understand why we have come to the present predicament, and where the alternative paths ahead can lead, there is reason to find in the very depths of the environmental crisis itself a source of optimism.”

    – Barry Commoner