You may not realize it, but the products you buy and throw away can impact the environment. During their lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times their adult weight in garbage. Paper, yard and food waste make up about 56 percent of solid landfill waste, while plastics are about 13 percent. Americans throw out 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste per year, consisting of things like batteries, pesticides, paint, electronic equipment and used oil. We also consume a lot of water — a family of four uses 400 gallons of water every day.
P2 means avoiding pollution at the source rather than trying to manage it later. Everyone can help protect the environment. Actions you can personally take are:
- Purchase energy efficient vehicles and appliances.
- Set your home thermostat a few degrees higher in summer and a few degrees lower in winter to save money on your energy bill without compromising comfort.
- Turn your water heater temperature to the warm setting instead of hot and use an insulating blanket.
- Clean or replace furnace, air conditioner and heat-pump filters and install a programmable thermostat.
- Leave your car at home - walk, bike or take public transportation instead.
- Buy high-mileage tires and remember to check your tire pressure monthly.
- Follow your vehicle’s manufacturer maintenance schedule. Newer models recommend oil changing schedules longer than the traditional three-month/3,000-miles.
- Turn off electronics, appliances and lights when not in use.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- Install low-flow toilets and fix water leaks.
- Compost yard and food wastes, or see if your community has a composting or yard waste collection program.
- Minimize fertilizer and pesticide use; try less toxic or natural recipes where possible.
- Go to U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice website to find environmentally friendly products that perform well and are safer for human health and the environment.
For more ideas, see Ohio EPA’s Handling Household Hazardous Waste fact sheet and U.S. EPA’s Pollution Prevention Tips at Home website.
- REDUCE the amount of materials you use, which reduces the amount of waste you create.
- REUSE materials when possible.
- RECYCLE as much as possible.