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Ways to reduce trash

Here's a list of ideas we've come up with to reduce the amount of trash that goes to the landfill. We'd love to hear your ideas to add to this page - just contact us.

  • Consume less and live more simply. Borrow, lend, and share with neighbors, friends, and family.
  • Compost vegetable scraps and yard waste instead of discarding. We can provide informational flyers about what compost is and how to do it. You can create your own compost pile, purchase a pre-fab enclosed plastic compost bin at cost from Pedal People, or have Pedal People pick up and haul away your compost. Pedal People does NOT compost pet litter.
  • Avoid buying and using one-time-use products. Use cloth napkins, handkerchiefs, reusable coffee filters, travel mugs, etc.
  • If you buy kitty litter, one alternative is sawdust pellet litter. Throw away the poop in the trash. Studies have shown that flushing cat poop is harmful to ocean life. When the remaining pellets break down into sawdust from the urine (after several weeks), then you can mulch bushes with it. Feline Pine is a brand that works well.
  • Bring a cloth reusable bag to markets and stores or carry plastic bags with you to reuse. At many grocery stores there are bins by the front door for "recycling" bags; grab some of those.
  • Carry a small washcloth or handkerchief to use instead of paper towels or hand dryers in public bathrooms. It's small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, and you can wash it along with your laundry.
  • Buy fresh local unpackaged fruits and vegetables from local markets, farmer's markets, or grow your own if you are able! Check out CISA- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture to learn about supporting your local farmers. 413-665-7100 or www.buylocalfood.org. Purchasing a 'farm share' which provides you with weekly farm food is often cheaper than buying fruits and veggies at the store. Community garden plots are available through the Northampton Recreation Department or Grow Food Northampton.
  • Avoid frozen or processed foods; packaging creates excess waste.
  • Cook at home when possible and buy unprocessed food in bulk. With the Pedal People Food Collective you can get staple goods in bulk and bring your own reusable containers instead of buying individual packaging.
  • Make your own! Canned goods, condiments, juices, vinegar, yogurt, cheese, breads, etc.
  • If you go out to eat, bring your own reusable container to take home leftovers in instead of using plastic, paper, or styrofoam take-home containers.
  • Drink tap water or filtered water. Bottled drinks are a major contributor to pollution and waste. 1.5 million barrels of oil are consumed each year to produce enough plastic for water bottles. Plastic water bottles take 1,000 years to biodegrade. Also, tap water is actually more strictly regulated than bottled water.
  • Avoid buying plastics in general. Plastic is made from gas and oil. Don't use styrofoam. It is non-recyclable and non-biodegradable.
  • If you menstruate, consider less wasteful alternatives such as a menstrual cup, sea sponge, or washable cloth pads.
  • Use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers which are taking up an immense about of space in our landfills. Consider Diaper Free/ Elimination Communication. Breastfeed if you are able.
  • If you shave, use long lasting razors.
  • Make cleaning rags and handkerchiefs out of worn-out clothes and material scraps.
  • Reduce your junkmail! Contact the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) at 212-768-7272 or on the web at www.dmaconsumers.org where there is a mail-in form and an online form that will drastically reduce your junk mail. Mail with a $1 check or money order payable to the DMA at MAIL PREFERENCE SERVICE, ATTN: Dept 25537903, DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION, P.O. Box 282, Carmel, NY, 10512. If you need access to a computer, go to your local library. Call the 1-800 number on the back of magazines or mail that you don't want and ask the companies to remove your name from their mailing lists. Contact companies and organizations directly to remove your name from their mailing lists. Sign up at Catalog Choice (www.catalogchoice.org). Set up an account and opt out of receiving all the catalogs that you don't want.
  • Use rechargeable batteries. As batteries become older and don't hold a complete charge, use them in items that don't need a completely charged battery; i.e. - the use of almost worn out digital camera batteries AA and AAA can be downgraded and used in things like electric toothbrushes and flashing LED bike taillights.
  • Read the newspaper and other publications at your local library and/or share subscriptions.
  • If you have reusable items you don't want, try Freecycle.org, Craigslist (westernmass.craigslist.org), Buy Nothing groups, Aunt Clara's Closet (in the Gazette), donate to The Northampton Survival Center, the Salvation Army, and other local organizations or put a "free" sign by the items on the sidewalk. For leftover home repair/rehab materials, EcoBuilding Bargains in Springfield accepts some donations: 413-788-6900 or www.ecobuildingbargains.org. Check out Earth911.org, a directory of companies that accept hard to recycle matter.
  • Host or attend a clothing swap where friends/family bring unwanted clothes to swap.
  • Repair rather than replace items. Learn to fix things. Help fixing things is available multiple times each year at Northampton RePair events!
  • Salvage discarded items that could be used.