Tips from Carbon Footprint Investigators
On Campus Sustainability
Just as important as recycling your waste is the act of "closing the loop" by buying products made of recycled content. Keeping recyclable materials out of the trash heap is only the first step in ensuring the value of recycling.
High demand for eco-friendly products encourages manufacturers to use more of these materials. Widespread belief that recycled products are more expensive or of poorer quality has consistently proven to be myth. A recent Buy Recycled Business Alliance survey reports that 97% of respondents are satisfied with the performance of recycled products. Try for yourself comparing products side-by-side to demonstrate the strength and quality of recycled products. Additional studies have shown that most of these products cost less than 5% more than comparable products made of virgin (non-recycled) content. Often the cost is the same or recycled materials even cost less.
Buying recycled products is easy. Just check the labels on the merchandise you buy. Important to look out for is "Postconsumer content", which means the product is made at least in part of materials businesses or individuals would normally throw away as waste. To have a major impact, try to buy paper towels with at least 30% postconsumer content. Other great things to buy that are made from recyclables include aluminum cans, toilet tissue, trash bags, egg cartons, and glass containers. More and more of these products are available all the time, so support their manufacturers and keep the cycle going!
"Hold the Bleach, Please"
What is the difference between sparkling white paper towels and naturally brown paper towels? The white paper is bleached using chlorine – a process that is dangerous to both humans and the environment. When products such as paper towels, toilet paper, coffee filters, tea bags, tampons, menstrual pads and diapers are bleached during manufacturing, dioxins are released into the air. Dioxins are extremely dangerous toxins that accumulate in water and are then taken up by animals and humans. The bleach used in these products may leach into the food that you eat.
Bleach is also widely used in flour and sugar. While the health effects of these products is less well known, you can ensure your health by opting for their unbleached varieties. While they should be available in your local market (whole wheat flour is a good bet, and look for "raw" or "unrefined" sugar), there are also a number of online sources.
To avoid potential health complications, which include cancer, birth defects and increased risk of diabetes, and to keep the environment clean, buy no bleached products. If you’re unsure about making a switch, look for low-impact choices, like coffee filters and tea bags, before moving on to paper towels and other care products.
View past tips
- Reducing Landfills / Low or Zero VOC Paints
- Take a Sustainable Approach to Halloween Costumes / Use Dimmable Lights
- Eat Organic / Think Before You Buy
- Cancel Phone Book Delivery / Use Energy Star Appliances
- 3 Energy-Efficient Dorm Habits / Compost Applicable Trash
- Wash Clothes in Cold Water / Buy Locally Grown Food
- Reduce Your Speed / Switch to Solar Water Heating
- Chlorinate Your Pool / Rideshare to Work
- Recycle or Donate Outdated Electronic / Turn Patio into Organic Garden
- Install Programmable Thermostat / Filter Tap Water
- Insulate Pipes & Water Heater / Use Dishwasher Wisely
- Install a Tankless Water Heater / Buy a Hybrid Vehicle
- Reuse Items / Plant a Tree
- Recycle CFLs / Eco-friendly Tips in the Kitchen
- Capture Rain / Fix Leaky Faucets
- Line or Rack Dry Clothes / Recycle All Types of Plastic
- Eating Whole Foods / Reduce Buying Packaged CDs/DVDs
- Using Computer's Sleep Mode / Using Eco-friendly Dishwasher Detergent