Reduce Your Environmental Impact

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Home Waste Audit

With a little planning and some determination, you can reduce the amount and the toxicity of waste you produce while increasing your recycling. You'll quickly become an expert waste watcher! Below are guidelines for a "walk-through waste audit." The questions will help you become aware of your purchasing habits, as well as your disposal habits.

On average, how much trash does your household generate each week?
You can measure by weight or volume. Volume is usually easier.
How many bags or cans of trash are set out each week?

What's in there? Take a look. You may not want to sort through the trash at the end of each week since it will have time to "marinate." As an alternative, you can record what you place in the trash during the week. Look at each "disposal site" separately. For example:
 Kitchen  - approximate amounts: of food waste, plastic packaging, plastic bags, bottles, cans, etc.
 Garage or Store Room  - paints, motor oil, pesticides, etc,
 Bedrooms  - newspapers, magazines, plastics, etc.
 Home Office/Family Room  - paper, plastic wraps, cans, etc.
 Bathroom  - containers, disposable razors, packaging, etc.

Are there a lot of disposables in the kitchen or bathroom trash?  (Paper towels, plastic or paper cups, plates, disposable razors) Could some be replaced by durable items?

  1. You may not want to completely eliminate the use of paper towels in your kitchen but perhaps you could cut back.
  2. Keep attractive cloth for drying hands while still using paper for cleaning up spills.
  3. Use disposable cups during the cold and flu season and switch back to a reusable cup for most of the year.

 How much of your trash is packaging? Studies indicate that packaging accounts for 1/3 of household trash. Perhaps you could: 

  1. Purchase items with less packaging or no packaging. Buy "supersized" for items you routinely purchase.
  2. Buy fruit loose, or in a bag that you are reusing.
  3. You might need to purchase over-packaged items occasionally if you have a very specific need or to get a real bargain, but as a routine, excessive packaging should be avoided. Look for packaging that is recyclable in your curbside collection program. Look for packaging that is made with recycled materials.
  4. There are recycled tissue products and recycled paper readily available in local stores.
  5. A wide variety of detergents and hair care products are packaged in recycled plastic that can be recycled again.
  6. Read labels and consider the packaging as well as the product you choose to purchase.

Backyard Composting

Compost critters, the bugs, fungi, bacteria, and worms living in our yards make composting very easy. Just throw leaves, along with grass clippings, wilted flowers and other yard waste into a compost bin or pile, and the compost critters will eat away until there is finished compost. Yard waste composted in this way may take as long as two to three years to break down fully. If you wish to speed up the process and harvest a rich soil amendment sooner, you can "manage" the compost pile, putting millions of microorganisms to work for you.
It’s important to remember:

  1. You can choose how much work and money you want to invest in this project.
  2.  You will be successful.  Compost happens! 
  •  You will need a minimum space about 4' by 4'; pile leaves 4' high. Size and shape are important. The pile should be large enough to allow sufficient heat retention and small enough to allow oxygen circulation.
  • Adding "greens" (grass clippings, vegetable & fruit peelings), will speed the process; more frequent turning may be required.
  • Adding "browns" (autumn leaves, small twigs, chipped branches), will slow down the process.
  • Adding worms will help keep the pile aerated and speed decomposition. Red wigglers or red worms are recommended. You can order these through garden magazines or catalogs.
  • You may wish to construct an enclosure made of wood, wire, or fencing. You can purchase "composters" from nurseries or garden catalogs.

Call the CMCMUA (609)465-9026 for a more detailed brochure.

Invest In Futures, Buy Recycled!

The Cape May County MUA is asking shoppers to look carefully at the products and packaging they purchase. The Authority encourages you to "Invest in Futures...BUY RECYCLED!" There are many recycled products already on store shelves; for example: detergent and shampoo packaged in recycled plastic containers, plastic bags that are made with recycled plastic, greeting cards, notebook paper, tissue products made from recycled magazines and office paper.

Each week families all over Cape May County set out recyclables for collection.  We call this "recycling," however; it's just the first step in the process.  Waste materials are thrown into a truck and hauled away to be recycled.  The cans, bottles and paper are not really recycled until they are made into a new product and someone buys them back to use them again.

Some recyclables (glass, jars, aluminum cans) appear on store shelves looking just like they did the first time we used loop recycling.  Other recyclables like plastic bottles are remanufactured into very different products and may have several "reincarnations" before final disposal.  This is called cascade recycling.  In either case, it's important that we buy products and packaging that have recycled content.

This link will take you to the Association of New Jersey Recyclers – ANJR and to the New Jersey Business Guide to Recycled Products.  Learn about “Closing the Loop and Making an Impact, and see the Questions and Answers on Buying Recycled Products. 

These websites are helpful to you in your efforts to Buy Recycled.  The websites provide recycled product categories that will lead you to the websites of manufacturers and distributors of various recycled products.