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The Great American Cleanup

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Environmental Education Grants

Recycling & Reusing

Reducing Paper Waste

According to the EPA, paper and paper board are the second most commonly recycled item – good job everyone! However, out of all the paper used, only 62% (42,500 tons) is being recycled, so there’s still room for improvement.


The EPA estimates the national recycling rate of phone books is 18%, therefore only 117,000 tons of phone books are recycled each year, many of them on the day that they are received.

What about junk mail? According to the US Postal Service, American households received a total of 85 billion pieces of junk mail (referred to as advertising mail) in 2009 alone, which averages out to approximately 14 pieces a week.

Did you know that every ton of mixed paper recycled can save the energy equivalent of 165 gallons of gasoline? That means the equivalent of 7,012,500 gallons are currently being saved, but think what that savings would be if recycling rates were closer to 100%. While paper and paper board recycling have increased over time, office recycling offers the largest room for improvement as their typical recycling rates are close to 50%.



  • Is junk mail taking over your mailbox? The Federal Trade Commission website explains how you can have your name removed from unsolicited mailing lists.
  • Yellow Pages lets you opt out of receiving Yellow Page Directories.
  • Think twice before printing e-mails—do you really need a hard copy?
  • Share materials with associates via electronic files, voice mail and e-mail rather than paper memos. Save what you need electronically, and use hard copies only when really necessary.
  • Scan documents and attach them to an e-mail rather than send them by courier.
  • If your company offers electronic funds transfer (EFT) or direct deposit for payroll, be sure to sign up for it. Arrange for your suppliers and vendors to utilize EFT between your firm and theirs. Signing up for e-bills and paying your bills online saves paper.
  • Subscribe to online newspapers instead of having the paper delivered.
  • Choose a lighter weight paper in your printers, copiers and fax machines. Given how much paper the typical office uses in a year, even a few ounces saved per ream can add up quickly.
  • Photocopy and print on both sides of the paper.
  • Reduce catalog clutter and third-class mailings by calling the 800 number of the catalog and asking to be removed from their list or put on a reduced list, if available. You also can put your address on a do-not-solicit list.


  • Turn printed pages into memo pads by flipping them over and taking notes on the blank side.
  • When all the name and address spaces on mail envelopes have been filled in, tape a blank piece of paper to the envelope and label with two columns, one for name and the other for address. Voila! The envelope can be used again and again!
  • Keep a large plastic bag next to the shredder, and fill it when the shredder basket becomes full. Use this material for packing and cushioning, eliminating the need to purchase “peanuts.”
  • Retain boxes to use again for shipping, moving or storage.


  • Junk mail and phone books can be recycled in your curbside bin or at a convenience center. Remember to remove all personal information from junk mail before recycling.
  • Be sure to remove junk mail and newspapers from their plastic sleeve before placing it in the curbside bin. Plastic newspapers should be recycled with your other plastic bags.
  • Shredded paper also is recyclable if collected inside a paper bag.
  • To encourage people to recycle more, try providing a small container for waste and large container for recycling. The small container will help people to think twice about what they’re going to throw away.
  • Hold an office contest to see which department recycles the most. Don’t forget to give a prize!
  • Keep recycling bins in convenient locations such as the break room and printer room.


We live in a beautiful region surrounded by water. It impacts everything from the food we eat to the fun we have as well as our economic livelihood. Our daily actions have a lasting impact and it's up to us to protect and restore our waterways. It takes a community of individuals making small changes to make a difference. Getting involved in the Bay Star programs is one way you can be part of the effort to protect our region's most defining natural resource, water.

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