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Source Reduction for Non-paper Products


  • Use solar-powered equipment to eliminate batteries.
  • Rent, lease or contract for equipment that is infrequently-used or needs costly maintenance. Require contractors (e.g. copying services and printers) to implement your recycling and source reduction policies for your work.
  • Buy durable products:
    • Modular carpets -- refurbish only the parts that are worn
    • Food service - Use plastic trays, ceramic or durable plastic dishware, and metal silverware instead of disposable paper and plastic alternatives. Buy food service trays with separated food sections and eliminate the dishes altogether.
    • Ceramic mugs and drinking cups instead of disposable. Encourage food services and restaurants to give beverage discounts to staff who bring their own cups instead of using disposables.
    • Washable linens, perhaps through a linen service contract, instead of disposable table covers and aprons
    • Washable clean-up rags rather than disposable
    • High quality plastic lumber benches and tables last longer and are easier to repair and maintain than most wood.
    • Rubber playground surfaces eliminate the need to continually clean and replace sand and other loosefill materials.
    • Metal supports for wire on electrical poles rather than wooden crossbeams
  • Look for long warranties -- they usually indicate durable and repairable products.
  • Reduce product weight:
    • Trash can liners -- thickness does not necessarily indicate strength
  • Reduce product size:
    • Match trash can liners to the cans.
    • Buy concentrated powder and liquid products.
  • Reduce toxicity:
    • Printing inks -- Use vegetable-based inks instead of petroleum-based. Avoid graphic designs that waste ink, such as ink washes that totally cover a paper. Print shops should reuse excess ink.
    • Use unbleached paper or paper bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives.
    • Tack carpets instead of using adhesives which give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
    • Use lead-free, waterborne paints instead of solvent-based paint with lead.
    • Distill solvents and paint thinners for reuse.
    • Use soap and a high pressure washer rather than chemical degreasers in maintenance garages.
  • Select equipment for source reduction features:
    • Copiers that read and produce double-sided copies. Set the defaults to duplex.
    • Laser printers that print on both sides of the paper
    • Paper towel dispensers that accommodate roll towels rather than folded. Set dispensers for shorter sheet lengths.
    • Bathroom tissue dispensers for jumbo tissue rolls
    • Hand-crank pencil sharpeners instead of electric
  • Buy in bulk, particularly liquid and powdered products.
  • Carefully calculate quantities needed to reduce excess, waste, storage requirements.


  • Buy reusable products:
    • Binders with refillable label pockets, or attach separate label pockets or peel-off labels
    • Cloth rolled hand towels in restroom dispenser systems can be reused more than 100 times before being made into rags.
    • Reusable air filters
    • Refillable pens and pencils
    • Erasable wall calendars
    • Refillable ink-jet print cartridges
  • Buy products that can be repaired:
    • Upgrade computers with new cards and chips as long as possible.
    • Buy repairable tools, equipment, appliances.
  • Buy remanufactured products:
    • Laser toner cartridges
    • Retreaded tires
    • Automotive parts
    • Refurbished furniture, including modular
    • Used quality equipment such as computers and phone systems
    • Re-inked printer ribbons
    • Reformatted computer disks
    • Reformatted video tapes
  • Reuse materials in good condition
    • Window and door frames for construction
    • Window glass
    • Bathroom fixtures, hardware and other materials from construction and renovation sites
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