Indirect Energy Savings

Lots of little things can make a big difference!

First - Reduce

This critical first step of waste prevention has been overshadowed by a focus on recycling. Please help to promote a greater awareness of the importance of the "Reduce" part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle concept.

Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product - do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)? When you are thinking about buying something, try the 30-Day Rule -- wait 30 days after the first time you decide you want a product to really make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying.

Avoid Trash: Avoid creating trash wherever possible: when ordering food, avoid receiving any unnecessary plastic utensils, straws, etc. (ask in advance), buy ice cream in a cone instead of a cup, don't accept "free" promotional products, buy products with the least amount of packaging, etc. Every little bit of trash avoided does make a difference!

Double Sided Printing: Use double sided printing whenever possible to reduce the the amount of paper used.  Cornell used approximately 4.6 million sheets of paper last year, this could be significantly reduced by double sided printing.  Click here for more information on Cornell's paper costs.

Shopping Bags: While shopping, if you only buy a few products skip the shopping bag. For larger purchases, bring your own. Learn about the dangers of plastic bags and what countries around world are doing about it ("The Dangers of Plastic Bags" slideshow from Teacher Vishal Mody).


Second - Reuse

The media has done a wonderful job of selling us on the attractiveness and benefits of buying "new", "improved", "special", etc. products. However, we already collectively own so much that we could all survive for quite a while on the existing products - if we just reused them a few times!

Garage Sales: Shop at and hold garage sales - this is a great way to reuse products.

Reusables: Switch from disposable to reusable products such as food and beverage containers, cups, plates, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.

Buy/Sell Used Items: Buy and sell your items on sites such as:
  • Ebay
  • Barter Bee.
  • Craiglist provides a great free way to buy/sell/give away used items in your local community (select your community from listings on the right)
  • Recycler's World facilitates buying and selling used products (for home and work)
  • Local second hand stores

Frugal Printing: Use both sides of each piece of paper -- for note taking or printing documents from your computer (at home or work). Create note pads by stapling together once-used paper.

Refurbished Computers: Buy refurbished computers for less

Rechargeable Batteries: Purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery recharger (some battery rechargers will also recharge regular alkaline batteries). Solar powered battery recharchers are available online.

College Reuse: Dump and Run is a nonprofit organization that organizes the collection of college students' castoff items in the spring, so they can be sold to incoming students in the fall. The proceeds are then donated to nonprofits.

Third -Recycle


Recycle Bins: Create designated holding "bins" for each type of recycled product and place in convenient locations in your home/garage

Recycled Content: Ask your local retailers to stock more products made from recycled materials and buy products made from the highest recycled content whenever possible.

Green Paper: In general, try to buy products/containers made from recycled material as often as possible to support the recycled product market. When purchasing paper products (toilet paper, etc,), look for paper that has been recycled using a minimum of 50% post-consumer waste. Also, purchase from companies that do not use chlorine to bleach their paper products (which creates dioxin waste).