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Making Source Reduction Work

a city skyline a capital green P with a yellow cats paw printutting source reduction into practice is likely to require some change in our daily routines. Changing habits does not mean a return to a more difficult lifestyle, however. In fact, just the opposite may happen. If we don't reduce waste, the economic and social costs of waste disposal will continue to increase, and communities—large and small, urban and suburban—will face increasingly harder decisions about managing their trash.

All parts of society need to work together to change current patterns of waste generation and disposal. The federal government develops and provides information and looks for incentives to create less waste. It also helps communities plan and carry out source reduction measures. State, local, and tribal governments can create the most appropriate source reduction measures for their areas. For example, some communities already are using fee systems that require households and businesses to pay for trash disposal based on the amount they toss out.

Large consumers—manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, hotels, schools, and governments—can prevent waste in a variety of ways, including using products that create less trash. Manufacturers also can design products that use fewer hazardous components, require less packaging, are recyclable, use recycled materials, and result in less waste when they are no longer useful.

Individuals can evaluate their daily waste-producing activities to determine those that are essential (such as choosing medicines and foods packaged for safety and health), and those that are not (such as throwing away glass or plastic jars that could be reused or locally recycled). This web site suggests many practices that reduce waste or help manage it more effectively. Adopt those that are right for you and add others that you may think of yourself. Discuss your ideas with neighbors, businesses, and other members of your community. It's important to remember that all actions will have some effect on the environment. If reusable products need to be washed, for example, there may be an increase in water use.

Success with Source Reduction

People from small towns and big cities across America are implementing innovative source reduction programs and are realizing economic as well as environmental benefits.

You can encourage and support these changes in your community by working with civic groups, local merchants, and county boards. Through consumer education a yellow cats paw printcampaigns, school curricula, economic incentives, and other legislative, financial, and economic measures, your community can set the pace for new ways to reduce solid waste. Here are a few examples of how communities and businesses are reducing waste.

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