General - Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board

Campaign Materials - Article
The First “R”: Reduce
Remember the good old saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?” Many of us
recycle all we can in an effort to positively impact the environment, so
let’s take a couple steps backwards and focus on the first “R”: Reduce.
Waste reduction is the best method of waste management because it
actually prevents the generation of waste, saving natural and financial
resources. And unlike recycling and waste-to-energy processing, it
requires no energy or processing. It only requires that we all think about
reducing waste in everyday living.
Here are six easy things you can do to reduce the amount of waste in
your household:
1. Get your name off of junk mail lists. Each year, the average
household in the U.S. receives more than 40 lbs. of unwanted,
unsolicited mail. Many find junk mail to be a real pain, but it’s
sometimes hard to know who to contact to remove your name from a
list. The Web site,, has compiled resources for getting
your name off lists of major marketers, credit companies, and how to
register with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference
2. Pack a no-waste lunch. Another easy “be green, save green” tip.
Use a reusable lunch bag and reusable containers instead of plastic
bags or disposable containers—and of course, a cloth napkin.
3. Use a reusable mug. Instead of using a Styrofoam or paper cup
from the coffee shop, bring in your own mug. Also, bring a water
bottle to refill; you’ll save money and reduce waste.
4. Look for less packaging and avoid disposables. This one’s big—
nearly 30 percent of our trash is packaging. Much of this is cardboard,
which can be recycled, but why use the resources on recycling when
we didn’t need that packaging in the first place? When you’re at the
store, buy in bulk and bring reusable bags to carry your purchases in.
Choose less-packaged products over individually wrapped items.
5. Educate yourself, friends, and family about waste reduction.
The first “R” can make a huge difference on our environment. Visit and for more tips on all three
“Rs” and share what you learn!
March 2009
This article was provided by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board as a part of
the Rethink Recycling Campaign. Please help us track the use of this campaign. Please send
an e-mail to with a description of how the fact sheet was used,
the date it will be published, and the estimated circulation of the publication. If you have
any questions about the campaign, please contact