Waste Reduction & Buy Recycled

mailbox on a post overflowing with junk mail inside it


Did you know the average American generates about 4.5 pounds of trash per day? That totals more than 1.6 tons per person in a year or the equivalent weight of one mid-sized SUV. 

Stop Junk Mail

Each year over 1 billion pounds of junk mail get delivered to mailboxes across America, and most of it ends up in landfills. While recycling junk mail is far better than tossing it in the garbage, preventing the creation of all that wasted paper in the first place can save millions of trees. Below are some easy ways to reduce the constant flow of unwanted mail to your mailbox.

To remove your name for mailing lists and opt-out of receiving unwanted, such as catalogs and promotional offers:

To stop credit card offers from major credit bureaus:

Learn more about stopping unwanted mail visit ftc.gov.

Kick-Start Your Zero Waste Routine

blue reusable shopping bag with groceries inside Nip Waste in the Bud
  • Store your reusable shopping bags in your car, so you’ll have them with you every time you shop.
  • Minimize your purchase of “ready to eat” foods that only come in non-recyclable packaging.
  • Avoid using plastic bags from the store’s produce section by placing fruits in vegetables in your own reusable produce bags.
  • Eliminate buying costly paper towels and instead use washable hand towels or rags when cleaning up.
  • Put a stop to your mailbox overfilling with junk mail by removing your name from mailing distribution lists.
Reuse Before Recycling
  • Share magazines that you’ve already read with friends or donate them to school teachers for art projects.
  • box of donated clothes Donate unwanted clothing, household goods, and furniture to local charities.
  • Consider refurbish a piece of furniture before going out to buy new items. Odds are there’s a YouTube video on how to restore it.
Recycle Like You Mean It
  • Take a recycling refresher and revisit the list of accepted materials of what can and can’t be recycled(PDF, 2MB) at your home and work.
  • Inventory recyclables that are making their way into your trash and start recycling those materials from now on.
  • Stop putting non-accepted items in your recycling bins, as these contaminants lower the value and marketability of the accepted recyclables.
Find Creative Ways to Reuse Non-Recyclable Items
  • No need to buy small plastic trash bags. Instead, try using alternatives, such as empty large-sized cereal bags for lining small wastebaskets.
  • Make your own travel-size containers. For example, reuse contact lens cases to carry around small amounts of hand lotion.
Buy Recycled
  • Help to “close the loop” by purchasing products made with recycled content whenever possible. For example, a least one brand of toilet paper made for recycled paper is available at most shopping stores.
  • Looked for the words “Made from Recycled Paper” when buying paper for your printer.
Cut the Food Waste
  • When eating out or ordering take-out, ask for items you don’t want to be left off your plate.
  • Start composting your food scraps in your own home backyard compost pile.


Choose to Buy Recycled

Green shopping bag with the words Buying recycled-content products benefits our environment by protecting natural resources, saving energy, and reducing pollution. Choosing to purchase products made with recycled content is essential to “closing the recycling loop.” Buying recycled maintains market demand and competition for recyclables, thus helping to ensure the continuation of recycling programs.

Recycled-content products are widely available at competitive prices. Most grocery stores carry paper products, such as paper towels, toilet paper, and paper plates, made from recycled materials. Other vendors may feature “Green” product options in different store sections, or you can search online specifically for recycled-content products. Office supply outlets will have copy paper, envelopes, and other supplies made of recycled materials. Generally, recycled content products are no more expensive than traditional items, and in many cases, recycled content products are less expensive. Construction materials such as deck boards and carpeting made from recycled materials are also widely available.

Any myth that recycled-content products are of lesser quality is entirely false. Manufacturing advancements make recycled-content products in every way equal to the quality of their non-recycled (virgin material) counterparts. So, help protect our environment and make the switch to buying recycled-content products.