The ULS Report TM
Helping people Use Less Stuff by conserving
resources and reducing waste.
Volume 3, Number 6
It's that time of year again, when the wrapping paper flows like water and mail carriers start to whine. While it's virtually impossible to look specifically at the Christmas season, annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags totals about 4 million tons. Third class mail adds another 4.4 million tons to mail bags and, ultimately, to garbage bags. These items combined account for a bit over 4% of the total solid waste generated yearly in the United States.
Educating people about the need to fight waste and conserve resources is what ULS Day is all about. To get the message out and help people learn to reduce and reuse as well as to recycle, 100 organizations have signed on as ULS Day 1996 sponsors and participants:
ULS Day 1996 Participants
- Center for Marine Conservation
- Families, 4H and Nutrition Unit; Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Good Advice Press
- Keep America Beautiful, Inc.
- National Park Service, Southeast Region
- National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education
- National Waste Prevention Coalition
- Recycling Education Foundation
- Second Harvest
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste
- Alabama Department of Environmental Management, P2 Unit, Office of Education and Outreach
- Association of Ohio Recyclers
- Belmont University
- Brookfield Zoo (IL)
- California Integrated Waste Management Board
- Central Michigan University
- Clean Tennessee Program
- Corporate Environmental Management Program, The University of Michigan
- Elmendorf Air Force Base
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection
- Great Lakes Radio Consortium
- Illinois Recycling Association
- Indiana Institute on Recycling
- Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
- Keep Mississippi Beautiful
- Keep Nebraska Beautiful
- Keep Texas Beautiful
- Kids for Clean Water
- League of Women Voters of Texas
- Middlebury College
- Minnesota Waste Wise
- New Jersey EcoComplex
- North Carolina Department of the Environment, Health & Natural Resources
- Northern Illinois University Student Association Recycling
- Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
- Project Wild/Utah Department of Natural Resources
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- Shavers Creek Environmental Center, Penn State University
- Southeast Wisconsin Waste Reduction Coalition
- University of Arizona/BARA/The Garbage Project
- University Museum, University of Arkansas
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
- Alameda County (CA)
- Anoka County (MN)
- Beatrice Clean City Inc. (NE)
- Bluestem Solid Waste Agency (IA)
- Butler County Recycling & Litter Prevention (OH)
- Cass County Solid Waste Management Department (IN)
- Central Oklahoma Metropolitan Environmental Association (COMEA)
- City of Alameda Recycling Program (CA)
- City of Chadran (NE)
- City of Columbia Public Works Volunteer Program (MO)
- City of Edmonds (OR)
- City of Escondido (CA)
- City of Fresno Recycling Program
- City of Joliet (IL)
- City of Rancho Cucamonga (CA)
- City of San Bernardino Public Services Department (CA)
- City of Woodland (CA)
- Clean Greenville (TX)
- Detroit Institute of Arts (MI)
- DuPage County (IL)
- DuPage County Solid Waste Education Center (IL)
- Garbage Reincarnation (CA)
- Honolulu City and County Recycling Office (HI)
- Huron County Recycling (OH)
- Jefferson County Green Outlook Program (KY)
- Keep Chicago Beautiful (IL)
- Keep Cincinnati Beautiful (OH)
- King County Solid Waste Division (WA)
- Lake County Solid Waste District (OH)
- Lane County (OR)
- Lincoln/Lancaster Clean Community System (NE)
- McMinn Clean Community Commission (TN)
- Mecklenburg County Waste Management Division (NC)
- Monroe County Department of Environmental Services (NY)
- Montgomery Clean City Commission (AL)
- Montgomery County (MD)
- Orange Community Recycling (NC)
- Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority (FL)
- Recycle Ann Arbor (MI)
- Recycle Livingston (MI)
- Santa Clara County Home Composting Education Program (CA)
- Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia (GA)
- Skagit County Public Works (WA)
- Snohomish County Public Works, Solid Waste Management Division (WA)
- Sonoma County Department of Public Works
- Summit/Akron Waste Management Authority (OH)
- SunShares (NC)
- Town of East Hampton (NY)
- Town of Hempstead (NY)
- Town of Huntington (NY)
- Town of Shelter Island NY)
- Town of Southampton (NY)
- Town of Southold (NY)
- Valcore Recycling (CA)
- Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities (NY)
- Winneshieck County (IA)
- Yolo County Public Works (CA)
Return to Index
We kick off the holidays with Thanksgiving dinner, which produces more edible food waste than any other meal of the year. The season ends with the fall of the ball in Times Square -- and with the 42 tons of confetti and other garbage left behind for the New York Department of Sanitation. Here's what you can do to help reduce the trash in your town:
Don't Let the Holidays
Go to Your Waste
Make a List and Check It Twice
Holiday cards bought in one year would fill a football field 10 stories high! If each of us sent out one fewer card, that huge mound would be reduced by a full story, saving over 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
Local postmasters tell us that up to 20% of all mail is incorrectly addressed or otherwise undeliverable. Save time, money and resources by updating and paring down your list.
Food for Thought
Over 100 pounds of food are wasted per person each year. Take smaller portions. You can always go back for more!
Plan meals wisely and buy based on the number of guests you expect.
Save energy by cooking multiple items in the same oven. (Check to make sure that they should cook at about the same temperature.)
Buy fresh foods carefully, not just because they are cheap or on sale. Research shows that cheaper foods are wasted at a higher rate than more expensive items.
Give extra food to guests in plastic containers. Donate what's left to local food banks.
Home for the Holidays
Having a party? Turn down the heat before guests arrive. Their extra body heat will help warm the room.
Going to a formal occasion? Consider renting, rather than buying, a gown or tux.
Turn your fireplace into a furnace by using a heat exchanger. Glass doors will further improve efficiency, as will a flue that's open just enough to provide a draft without creating indoor smoke.
50 million Christmas trees are purchased each year in the U.S. Consider a potted tree that can be planted in the yard, or an artificial one.
Buy outdoor light strands that are wired in parallel. If one bulb burns out, the rest stay lit. Also, make sure you re-box lights after the season, or use old newspaper as a spool and wind the strands around it. Either way, lights won't get tangled, so you won't end up buying more.
Make your own wreaths out of natural materials such as branches, dried flowers, herbs, red and green chilies, etc. They make great gifts, too.
Gift Giving Guidelines
Use the comics instead of gift wrap -- If we each wrap only 3 gifts in reused paper, we'd save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields!
Shop early, while you have time to make careful choices. Last minute spending often leads to panic buying, which leads to unwanted gifts.
Give gifts of yourself -- offer to baby-sit, wash the car, do the dishes, run errands, etc.
Don't know what to give? Make charitable donations. Consider gift certificates, so people can choose for themselves.
Plan trips in advance and consolidate, especially when going to the post office. Mail everything at once and save time, aggravation and energy.
Shop at antique stores, holiday bazaars and thrift shops. Someone's trash may be someone else's treasure.
Consolidate purchases into one bag. Better yet, bring along a few from home and reuse them.
Reuse packaging cartons and shippings materials. Old newspaper makes for excellent packing, too. Shred some at work and bring it home, if you can.
Save fancier bags and use them as gift wrap.
Paper grocery bags can be used to wrap small to medium sized packages for mailing.
Save Your Energy
A turnback thermometer, which automatically turns the heat down at night and up in the morning, can reduce energy costs by up to 12%.
Shop from home -- electronically or through catalogs.
Walk to local parties, or carpool if you have to drive.
Run appliances such as the dishwasher, washing machine or dryer only when full.
Let meats defrost to room temperature. They'll cook faster, save energy, and taste better, too.
Spreading Holiday Cheer
Donate unwanted gifts to charity.
Reduce the number of cards you send by sending e-mail or calling those casual business acquaintances.
Try sending holiday postcards, which will save on paper, envelopes and postage.
Donate those cosmetic "free gifts with purchase" to a women's shelter.
Remember to bring your camera to capture holiday memories. Disposable cameras may be convenient, but they can also be wasteful.
Buy "faster" film such as 400 or 800. This will reduce the use of the flash and save energy.
Buy larger size rolls of film. Versus three rolls of 12, one roll of 36 reduces waste by 67% and saves you about $4.
Use rechargeable batteries.
Reuse video tapes instead of buying new ones. Give family photos as gifts. A picture costs little to take, but the joy it can bring may be priceless.
Have a Happy, Healthy and Resource-full Holiday Season!Return to Index
What you see... ............................................................................. ...What you get
Reuse, not Refuse. The Detroit Institute of Arts is hosting an exihibit entitled Re(f)use: Good Everyday Design. The show features 100 common products that celebrate the success of recycling and the power of design. Items include chairs made from old newsprint, necklaces from used inner tubes, stationery from obsolete maps, carpeting from soda bottles, and benches from milk jugs. Call Marci Rivers (313-833-9769) for details.
The Green Team. The Alliance for Environmental Innovation (AEI) and S.C. Johnson & Son are teaming up to develop a range of new approaches that will improve the environmental efficacy of S.C. Johnson's products and packaging. The company makes a variety of household products including Raid, Pledge and Johnson's Wax. AEI is a project of the Environmental Defense Fund and Pew Charitable Trusts. Call 617-723-2996 for more info.
Coal Goal. Recognizing that coal accounts for 95% of its growing power needs, China has announced plans to develop cleaner-burning fuels that can bring emissions down to near-international standards.
Hanging it Up. Sears is starting two reuse and recycling programs designed to save money and landfill space. The programs will reuse or recycle plastic hangers and garment bag film. Hangers and bags will be sent to a central processing facility for immediate reuse or recycling back into similar items.
Return to Index
We would like to acknowledge the following groups for providing ULS Day holiday tip information:
- The Garbage Project
- NYC Dept. of Sanitation
- The Con Edison Conservation Center
The ULS Report is a bi-monthly publication of Partners for Environmental Progress. Send e-mail to email@example.com.