Reduce Your Amount of Trash

Updated: May 15, 2019
With these environmental outdoor education activities you can teach your child about the three R's -- reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Reduce Your Amount of Trash

The Three Rs

Did you know there are three Rs in Green?
Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Everyone likes the convenience of modern life, but we pay in dollars now and garbage tomorrow for a lot of that convenience. So far it's up to each family to decide for itself where to draw the line. When your family wants to start being green, there's help available.

  • Many neighborhoods have bulk food stores, that help you reduce the amount of packaging you use.
  • Most towns have charity outlets such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army that reuse your old things to help someone else.
  • More communities are providing curbside recycling.
We hear a lot about recycling as a way to keep the earth clean, but that's actually the third step in cutting trash down to size. Let's look at the other two first.


This simply means, use less stuff! If you bring less stuff home, you have less stuff to throw out!

For every $10 spent on groceries, we spend a dollar more just for the boxes and bags! What are some alternatives?

  • Bring your own bags to the store.
  • Buy food in bulk, not individual servings.
  • Use reusable containers for leftovers and in your lunch bag.
  • Cut back on fast food meals, they pollute more than your arteries!


There's a used store for almost anything. Just check out the yellow pages.

  • When you buy used CDs, books, games, and clothes, you save money.
  • When you sell your old stuff, you get money back.
  • When you donate your old toys and appliances, you're giving someone else a present!


Set up a recycling center in your kitchen.

  • First find out what your town recycles.
  • Most towns give you a card to put on the fridge that reminds you what can be recycled.
  • They usually give you a big plastic bin to hold your bottles and cans between pickup days.
  • Get a big paper bag for newspapers.
  • Keep a record for a month and record how many garbage bags your family fills up each week.
Watch the number get smaller as you begin to recycle things you would have thrown away!

Some trashy facts

The US produces half of the world's garbage, but has only 6% of the world's people! In the US, each person generates about 4.3 pounds of trash a day. For a family of four, that's 6278 pounds, or more than THREE TONS of trash each year!

What does a family throw away?

  • 35% is packaging and containers. That's over a ton a year that we have to throw away just to get to the thing we bought!
  • 27.4% is what we call 'nondurable goods', things we use once and throw away, like disposable diapers, paper towels, magazines and newspapers. Each family throws out 10 pounds of paper every week! Think how much you'd save just by using both sides of your printer paper before you toss it out!
  • 15% is durable goods: things that are meant to last a long time, from big things, like cars, refrigerators, and last year's computer, to tiny ones, like batteries. That's half a ton every year, just because we got bored with our old toys or couldn't be bothered to fix them!
  • 14.3% (Another half ton) is yard trimmings, which should go right back in the yard as mulch!
  • 8.3% is food waste. That's 10-15 pounds a week! Think how many meals that could provide!
Source: The EPA's Municipal Solid Waste Factbook