Posted by: Alison Gilbert, Digital Age Storyteller | June 14, 2010


Just to get you in the mood for this blog post about garbage, enjoy the following video courtesy of YouTube.

On a daily basis, I receive mail that I do one of three things with:

• if it does not have my name on it, I immediately throw it away in the lobby trash receptacle provided by our landlord.

• if it has my name on it, I rip off my name and address and  then throw it in the receptacle.

• If it is something that I need to read, research or keep, it either becomes part of the to-be-read file sitting, sometimes for weeks in my apartment, until I have time to read and act on it. Then I throw it away attempting to recycle it. If I need to keep it, it is filed in one of twelve file drawers I have for that purpose.

In any of the above three cases, I accumulate much too much paper. At this point, I have about a month’s worth of local newspapers to read, bags of paper and cardboard to recycle and drawers of old bills and other information which I probably no longer need to keep.

This is a photo of the typical amount of recyclable garbage we collect on a regular basis

Just the usual amount of weekly recycling!

The other day, as I attempted to go through one of my mounds of collected paper, I spontaneously came to a conclusion and immediately took action. I began to call every company that I do business with, every organization that I belong to and everyone seeking donations from me.

The words I found coming out of my mouth were as follows, “I will only do business with and support companies or organizations that go paperless with me”.

That meant that I would no longer get my weekly local newspapers in the mail but would be notified when they were available on line, donation requests would be made by e-mail with on-line rather than printed newsletters. Not one single call I made was responded to with any objection.

I was actually dumbfounded. If this action was so easy to take, why were all these companies and organizations continuing to send paper rather than using electronic communication?

Then something Gandhi had said about becoming the change one wants to see in the world came to mind. So although I will not protest the avalanche of paper that is mailed out everyday, I can stop the flood from entering my life and my home.

It is also my hope that when other people read this blog, they will be inspired to follow my example because it is no longer enough to simply recycle. We need to reduce and reuse because recycling is not enough.

This is an adaption of the generic reduce, reuse and recycle logo to encourage reducing and reusing because recycling is not enough

The new logo we developed with a twist on the old reduce, reuse and recycle


  1. thanks for you inspiration, Al!
    Balance & Power, Inc. is going greener!

  2. If you’re tweaking the slogan, you can now add “Refuse.” Good post.

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