The ULS Report TM

Helping people Use Less Stuff by conserving
resources and reducing waste.

March-April 1998
Volume 5, Number 2



It may be time for spring cleaning, but there's a blizzard out there! Of paper, that is. The rise of the service economy over the last 35 or so years has given rise to the paper economy. Both were aided by a revolution in widely used office equipment -- computers, printers, copiers and fax machines. And now, with the proliferation of home offices and home computers (and kids using computers at home and school), the same forces are also creating masses of paper clutter and waste where we live.

Today, office paper and related business materials (brochures, flyers, newsletters, pamphlets, catalogs, etc.) represent the largest source of non-durable solid waste -- bigger than such typically vilified items as disposable diapers or plastic packaging. For perspective,the volume of office paper and commercial printing increased a whopping 245% between 1960 and 1994, from 3.9 to 13.5 million tons. During this time, all other solid municipal waste generated was up much less -- about 133% (which is still a lot!).

And even though much of this paper is high quality and easily recycled, we're printing, faxing,copying and collating memos at a much faster rate than can be dealt with by recycling programs. Whatever happened to the so-called paperless society?

Time to ULS!
Businesses have stuff hauled away by the dumpster-full. By using less and reducing the number of dumpster loads, the environment will benefit, but so too will the bottom line.

Given that up to 80 percent of the waste in a typical office is high-grade white paper, there's plenty that can be done to reduce waste. In fact, by creating a system that follows the three R's, it's possible to eliminate virtually ALL paper waste. We know the only papers at our office that don't get reduced, reused or recycled are glossy advertising materials that we have little control over. We estimate that since starting our program, paper waste has been reduced an amazing 99%! Here's what you can do:




Other ways to reduce waste in your work area
That wasn't very hard, was it? Think of all the paper and money you just saved! Grab your reusable ceramic or plastic mug and reward yourself with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea.

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ULS Day Contest Results

The results are in! We received thousands of entries from all over the country. As you may remember, we announced the contest on ULS Day 1997, asking children 6-12 years of age for their ideas about ways to reduce waste. Our judges -- Bob Lilienfeld of The ULS Report, Bill Rathje of The Garbage Project and Colleen Barton of Keep America Beautiful had a hard time picking winners, but pick we did:

Grand Prize -- New Bicycle

Calvin Cherry, Sun Prairie WI, age 9, Northside School: Every collection day, we combine our garbage and recyclable trash with our neighbors' trash so that the garbage trucks make fewer stops. This creates less pollution. [And we might add it uses less energy and saves on brakes and tires. You'll also get to know your neighbors!]

Runners-Up -- In-Line Skates from Rollerblade, Inc.

Johnny Hoover, Chicago, IL, age 6: When we go to fast food restaurants, we always stop to give back all the extra sugar, creamer, salt and ketchup packets they put in our bags.

Tobay Salas, Hinesburg, VT, age 6, home school: When something breaks, I make it into something else. For example, the arm broke on my robot and I made it into a toy pocket clock. I didn't throw anything away, and got a new toy by using my imagination.

Emily R., Gadsden, AL, age 6, Mitchell Elementary: Buy water filters for your sink instead of bottled water.

Laura Cahalios, Little Neck, NY, age 9, PS 94: My mother buys immense containers of products like oil, flour and laundry detergent. She then puts the products into reusable containers for everyday use. We save money and reduce packaging waste because we don't buy a lot of small containers.

Honorable Mentions

Judith A. Resnick Elementary School, Gaithersburg, MD: Virtually the entire school entered the contest, had a waste-free lunch on ULS Day and even made daily "public service announcements" on the public address system. Now THAT'S school spirit!

Matthew Benjamin, Mountaintop, PA, age 9, Fairview Elementary: My family reuses cereal boxes by turning them into magazine and file holders. Start with an empty cereal box, scissors, [reused] paper, tape and markers. Trim the box to make it look like a magazine file (e.g., cut it diagonally from one corner to a point about two-thirds of the way down the other side). Cover with paper, decorate and label.

Brittney Monserrate, Plano, TX, age 9, Sewell Elementary: Make a small animal exercise wheel by cutting the ends off a discarded chip can. Cover in pretty used paper and let your mouse or hampster roll around inside.

Matt Smith, Atlanta, GA, age 10, Johnston Elementary: Intead of throwing away mail, we use it as kindling and then put the ashes in our compost pile. I then put the compost on our flowers.

Joe Cartella, Rochester, NY, age 11, Apollo Middle School: We buy cereal in bags, rather than in boxes with bags inside. This reduces packaging waste and saves money.

Matthew Hodges, West Columbia, SC, age 11, Northside School: Buy quality products that will last for a long time.

Oak Johnson, Las Cruces, NM, age 7, Hillrise School: Instead of throwing items away, put them in a really big box. Whenever you have a project to do, go to the box and see if there is anything you could use. We saved our orange tops and used them to make scales for a big fish.

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Reduction RoundupTM

Kids and Pests. Entymologists at the University of Florida are coordinating a statewide program to reduce the use of pesticides around children. The researchers are using a technique known as Integrated Pest Management, which relies on natural predators, rather than chemicals, to control undesirable species such as cockroaches and rats. For more info, call Phil Koehler, 352-392-2484.

Orange You Glad? Chrysler, ARCO Chemical and Texaco are testing a new antifreeze that is less toxic than current formulations, will last up to five years or 100,000 miles and uses up to 100% recycled propylene glycol. Besides replacing the more harmful ethylene glycol, conventional corrosion-reducing additives are being replaced with organic materials which are depleted more slowly, thus extending coolant life. The new product will be colored orange rather than the more traditional green. Contact Denise Sulinski, 248-512-2317.

It's in the Chemistry. The editors of Chemical and Engineering News have peered into their crystal balls and predicted the future of the chemical industry. If they're right, it's good news indeed. Among their prognostications: plants (green ones, not factories!) will become the main source of oil and plastics, and green chemistry and similar technologies will eliminate pollution from the industry. The editors went so far as to state that within 25 years from now, virtually no pollution will come from chemical plants. Bravo!

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Last issue, we asked for your help in controlling paper waste and the costs associated with The ULS Report. Our hearfelt thanks to those of you who switched to the electronic versions of the report and/or sent donations. It was also encouraging to learn how many loyal and happy readers we have, especially within the business community.

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The ULS Report is a bi-monthly publication of Partners for Environmental Progress. Send e-mail to

Snail mail address: P.O. Box 130116, Ann Arbor, MI 48113
Phone: 734-668-1690
Fax: 734-930-0506

Editor: Robert Lilienfeld
Technical Advisor: Dr. William Rathje

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Copyright 1998 Partners for Environmental Progress

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