Best Practices

Woman looking at a plastic bottle

Before buying a product, consider the impact it has on the environment. Is it toxic? Can it be recycled? Will it decompose? Can you buy it used? Buy only what you need. Reduce, reuse, refuse, repair and recycle.

Consumers bear the responsibility of managing waste from the products they purchase. Due to the rising costs of raw materials used in manufacturing and awareness of the negative impact of waste on the environment, manufacturers have begun working to reduce the amount of waste their products generate. Efforts by manufacturers will decrease waste on a larger scale than consumers have been able to do through recycling. As the population increases worldwide, reducing waste is necessary to conserve natural resources.

Take Action


The best way to reduce waste is to reduce the amounts of products you purchase. Buy what you need — not always what you want. Many of us impulse buy or shop for fun. This increases waste through packaging and product. Most items purchased end up in the garbage within six months. When we buy more than we need, we are purchasing garbage!


Shop at thrift stores for clothing and furniture. Many of these items are gently used and cost a fraction of the prices of new clothing on the racks at stores and can be of better quality. Donate gently used clothing, shoes, housewares and electronics rather than throwing them away.


Refuse to purchase products that are cheap, can’t be recycled at the end of their life, or are generally entertaining for about 10 minutes. Over a lifetime, buying small bits of junk add up in the landfill and are unnecessary. Only a small percentage of what you buy will be passed on in the family as quality products. Refuse to purchase products that are unnecessary.


We live in such a disposable world that it seems easier just to throw something away than to get it fixed. Spend a little more money and buy quality products that will last longer and require fewer repairs. Repair good-quality products, and they can last a lifetime!


Recycle as many products as possible when you are finished with them. Some of these can be reused, and some can be dismantled and made into other products. Recycling provides raw materials for manufacturers. Recycled materials — including glass, metals and paper — require less energy to transform into new products.


Reduce Management Cost

Not only is waste bad for the environment if not managed properly, it is expensive for a county to dispose of. Putnam County spends almost $4.5 million annually to take care of the waste generated in the county. We can help reduce the amount of waste our county manages by doing one or more of the following:

  • Take cloth or reusable bags to the grocery store to eliminate the use of plastic bags.
  • Shop for items with the least amount of packaging. Individually-packaged products have the most packaging and the least amount of food.
  • Never shop when you are hungry. Plan meals in advance and follow a list. Buy only what you need. Forty percent of the food that is purchased in the United States is thrown away.
  • Refuse straws, condiment packages or extra napkins when purchasing food at a restaurant. Avoid Styrofoam. Take your own to-go box to pack leftovers. Purchase your own reusable stainless steel straw.
  • Donate usable furniture, clothing, shoes and household items to Goodwill, Re-Store or local thrift shops.
  • Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Call or go online and request to be taken off mailing lists. Go to to remove yourself from catalog mailing lists.
  • Reduce your dependence on plastic. Plastic waste is becoming an environmental nightmare. Use glass or reusable plastic containers that can be recycled at the end of their lives.
  • Stop using disposable plates, cups, straws and silverware. These one-time use products last indefinitely in a landfill.
  • Use a water bottle to carry to work or traveling instead of purchasing water in plastic bottles. The one-time cost of getting a nice, stainless-steel thermos will save both money and the environment.
  • Recycle waste whenever possible. Cardboard, plastics, paper, glass and metals can be recycled in Putnam County and bring revenue to the county. Electronics can also be recycled at the Putnam County Recycling Center. Make sure recyclables are clean so they do not contaminate all the other recyclables collected.
  • Purchase good-quality products and maintain them so they will last longer before needing replacement.
  • Buy only what you need.

Other Tips

Substitutes for Chemical Products


  • 4 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 drops of peppermint or spearmint concentrated food-grade drops

Shake together in a small glass jar, such as the kind in which you purchase pimentos or artichokes. Spill a little into your hand and brush your teeth for two minutes as recommended. To keep toothpaste fresh, do not put damp brush directly into the container.


  • 1 bar of soap (Ivory, Castile, Dr. Bronner’s or Fels-Naptha), grated or chopped finely in a food processor. Avoid inhaling soap particles.
  • 3 cups borax
  • 3 cups washing soda
  • 1 cup baking soda

Shake together in a one-gallon glass pickle jar to mix well. Use 1 tablespoon per small load or 2 tablespoons for a large load.


  • Vinegar

Pour white vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray on bathroom surfaces and let sit for 30 minutes. Sprinkle baking soda on the flat surfaces and wipe clean with a sponge. Rinse with warm water.


  • 1 tablespoon soda
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 drops essential oil

Mix in old shampoo bottle or jar. Pour enough on the head to clean all the hair and scalp and use fingers to reach all surfaces. Rinse.