One of the easiest ways to be a good environmental citizen is to reduce, or cut back, in key areas of your life.

Three of the most important resources you can reduce your consumption of are:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Solid waste

Here’s a quick breakdown of how reducing affects these areas:

  • Energy—Energy is generated and consumed with most activities, and it often results in releasing carbon into the environment. In addition, there is a finite amount of energy available from traditional (non-renewable) methods such as coal and oil. Developing alternative, renewable energies (such as solar, wind and geothermal) helps to reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources to power our lives.
  • Water—Water covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, but relatively little is suitable for consumption. In many parts of the world, drinkable water is in very short supply. Every time a drop of water goes down the drain, it becomes unsuitable for consumption unless properly treated.
  • Solid Waste—There is only so much room available for solid waste disposal, and because landfills are so tightly packed, it takes a great deal of time for material to decompose. The easiest way to reduce solid waste is to reduce your consumption of daily products. Be cautious of what you buy, and whether anything you are going to put in a trash can really belongs there.

Communities as well as individuals are always looking for new ways to address the concern of reduction in the above areas. The most common form is found in household waste and recycling. For example, a new type of waste reduction program is being explored known as a Pay-as-You-Throw (PAYT) trash collection program. Residents pay a fee per bag of garbage instead of a lump sum for the service. In turn, the curbside recycling program component is offered at no charge or a reduced fee.

The ideal outcome of PAYT is that residents will start recycling more in an effort to save money. According to the EPA, about 75 percent of what is found in the average garbage can is recyclable, so a PAYT program rewards people who choose alternative forms of disposal for this content, such as curbside recycling or composting.

There are several ways to reduce waste: 

  • Decrease the quantity and toxicity of trash you throw away and reuse containers and products.
  • Recycle as much as you can and purchase products with recycled content.
  • Practice composting to decompose organic waste, such as food scraps and yard waste.
  • The concept of reduce, reuse, and recycle is just as vital for household hazardous waste and industrial materials.
  • Household Hazardous Waste:  Improper disposal of household products containing corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients can pollute the environment and endanger human health.
  • Industrial Materials: Industrial non-hazardous wastes that can be recycled and reused are essential to a successful resource conservation program.

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Vermont Product Stewardship Council
The VTPSC was formed in 2008 to shift Vermont’s product waste management system from one focused on government-funded and taxpayer-financed waste diversion, to one that relies on producer responsibility in order to reduce public costs and drive improvements in product design that promote environmental sustainability.  The Council works to integrate the principles of product stewardship into the policy and economic structures of Vermont.

To learn more about the VTPSC, click here.

Don’t Burn Vermont
Click here to learn about the campaign to end backyard burning (and reduce toxins in our air).