Why Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle at USU?

(Adapted from Harvard University)

Reduce, reuse, and recycleReducing, reusing, and recycling our trash at USU brings environmental and economic benefits. Waste reduction avoids consumption of virgin resources and the need to handle and transport products as trash or recyclables in the first place. Examples of waste reduction include using e-mail instead of paper documents, getting off "junk" mail lists, and sharing subscriptions. Avoiding consumption of one ton of paper from virgin fiber saves the fiber equivalent of 17 trees and prevents air and water pollution. Buying paper from recycled fiber saves fiber and resources, but even this consumes fuel and generates de-inking clays and sludges which must be discarded. Reducing and Reusing can be better alternatives.

Re-using materials also avoids consumption of resources. Double-side copying, carrying a travel mug instead of getting paper or plastic take-out cups, and using inter-office envelopes all reduce waste. Other examples of re-use opportunities follow.

If you can't avoid generating trash or reuse it, recycling is the best way to dispose of it. USU generates about 2500 tons of trash annually! Each ton taken to the local landfill currently costs $27.00. That price is likely to increase tremendously as the Logan Landfill will fill to capacity within 5-10 years. Regulations are such now that new landfills will have to implement new procedures that will make sending trash there much more costly. If we recycled the paper we consume, we could spare the contents of half of the garbage trucks from ending up in landfills (which consume wetlands and leak toxins into ground water). Furthermore, if USU were to buy recycled paper, significant forest resources could be conserved. Recycling plastics, metal cans, glass, and other containers saves energy and resources as well. Removing materials through recycling costs USU no more than waste disposal, and provides more employment than trashing.

Waste Reduction Strategies

  • Share subscriptions with friends or go to the library to read periodicals
  • Get off junk-mail lists!!!
  • Purchase detergent and foodstuff in bulk to avoid over-packaged sizes
  • Offer services instead of products as gift (e.g., a restaurant meal instead of a new article of clothing)
  • Dine on premises rather than taking out
  • Use electronic communication when possible instead of paper, especially for records, forms, data that may be modified
  • Purchase office equipment with waste prevention in mind (electronic interface, double-sided capabilities, automatic reduction, etc.)
  • Post notices rather than distribute copies to all staff
  • Purchase supplies in reusable containers
  • Redesign products or packaging to use fewer materials
  • Work with vendors to reduce transportation packaging, e.g. require vendors shipping on a pallet to take it back with the next delivery
  • Use inter-office reusable envelopes for mail
  • Exchange or donate unneeded goods to surplus sales or one of several thrift stores in the area
  • Use hand dryers or less paper towels to dry hands
  • Use cloth handkerchiefs rather than paper tissues

Re-use Opportunities

  • "Lug a mug" for the drinks that you purchase on the go
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper products
  • Purchase second-hand books, furniture, and clothing
  • Rent and borrow rarely used equipment like vehicles and computers
  • Donate obsolete or outdated computer equipment to Surplus or a local thrift store
  • Use a water bottle rather than paper or plastic cups and simply refill it at water/drinking fountains

Recycling Tips

  • Set a collection bin/box wherever you generate recyclables
  • Consider turning your floor waste basket into a mixed paper recycling basket and keeping a small desk-top container for trash
  • Look for recycled content packaging when you buy products to help sustain the market for recycled materials
  • Clean out your closet seasonally and purge worn-out or seldom-worn clothing for recycling
  • When cleaning out your office, use your recycling container as most of the stuff in your office is recyclable, and call Recycling at 797-2011 if you need more/larger containers
  • Flatten cardboard boxes for recycling to save space, easier storage, and prevent hazards
  • CONVENIENCE! Place bins to make recycling at least as convenient as trash disposal