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The best way to reduce your impact on the Earth is to be conscious of the waste you produce.  To do this, it takes more than just recycling, but you also need to first Reduce the amount of waste you produce, reuse things as much as possible and when you cannot do either of those, then recycle what is left over!   Check out the tips below for integrating the REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE philosophy in to your life.


This common phrase has real significance if you are looking to live more sustainably.  Here are a few ways to do just that:

REDUCE-  Don't Use It In The First Place

The best way to stick to the plan is not to generate the waste in the first place.  If you don’t create waste, you wont need to get rid of it! Here are some alternatives to disposable items.

Instead of...

Try This...

Paper lunch bags

A reusable, washable canvas bag or lunchbox

Baggies or plastic wrap

A reusable container

Paper / plastic cups

Bring a washable mug and use it instead!

Paper memos / reports

Use e-mail (don’t print).  Print double sided reports

Copies, papers and reports

Make all possible copies double sided

Using virgin paper in fax machines or printers

Reuse the blank side of bad copies. If needed you can make a clean copy later

Buying new scratch pads

Reuse the other side of excess documents

Electronics Energy Pigs

Use Energy Star rated office equipment and UNPLUG everything when you aren’t using it!

REUSE - Use It As Many Times As Possible

Most things are like cats--they have multiple lives. It's up to us to let them live out those lives!

  • Reuse old product binders for other papers
  • Computer disks and file folders can be used over and over.
  • Empty tissue boxes can hold pens, pencils, etc.
  • Stop using disposable paper towels, coffee cups and water bottles – use something you can refill instead!
  • Skip the plastic bags at the Hub, grocery store or book store! Use your backpacks,

RECYCLE - Do It Again

Once a product has exhausted its lives, make it part of the great cycle--send it back to start over again as something new! The material you have already used can be broken down to use as raw material for another product – but only if you recycle it first!

Here at Purchase there are a multitude of bins to accept all your recyclables generated on campus. (See our recycling page for locations)


·   Making aluminum cans out of raw materials takes 19 times the amount of energy than it takes to recycle a can
·   Recycling one ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil and 3 cubic yards of landfill space and 15 trees
·   Glass never wears out. It can be recycled forever.
·   Every 1,050 recycled milk jugs can make one six foot plastic park bench
·   Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100 watt bulb for four hours

Here are some tips for:

Reducing in you home

  • Instead of always taking new bags at the grocery store, use canvass bags instead!  Then bring the old plastic ones back to be recycled.
  • Shopping in bulk is good. Just be sure to buy bulk goods that use less packaging.
  • Instead of tissues, use cloth hankies
  • Flow reducers on faucets and shower heads save as much as 3 gallons of water per minute. The old "bottle in the toilet" trick saves water there too.
  • Use Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs! They may be more expensive, but they last at least 10 times longer and use 1/10th the energy of a regular bulb.
  • Before you buy something new, ask yourself if you really need it, if the answer is no, leave it on the shelf!

Reusing in your home

  • Plastic milk jugs make great bird feeders
  • Broken clothes pins become magnets
  • Spring clip on hangers make great paper clips for large bundles
  • Paper towel tubes are a pet rodent's and small animal's delight
  • That old rug will work great in the garage to keep oil off the floor, make a soft spot for Spot, and keep kitty litter where it belongs
  • Baggie ties are great emergency shoelaces
  • Baggies are great for taking tissues with you and a lot cheaper than buying purse packs
  • Coffee cans can be used to bake bread, store small toys, decorated and used for small garden tools, sewing accessories, etc. Just be sure to smooth the cut edges

Recycling and composting

printable guidelines for recycling on campus are that the top of this page, under "Recycling flyers."

Also, while you are at it, start collecting your food waste for the Campus Garden Compost! Place all of your food scraps in a container and bring them to the Campus Garden.  However, meats, dairy and eggs should not be placed in the compost!  (Egg shells are okay).