Okie Recycling Tours

Are you curious to learn more about recycling happenings in your local community or state? Do you want to know how recycling works in your city? How about what happens to your recycling once it leaves your curb? Or, how recyclables are made into new products and available for you to purchase? If your answer to these questions is “YES” then head on to the OKRA YouTube channel for the Okie Recycling Tour or click on the links below for recent tours. The Okie Recycling Tour is a new recycling documentary program brought to you by OKRA. It covers recycling happenings in Oklahoma, featuring organizations,          businesses, cities, companies, schools, institutions and individuals working to improve recycling in their communities. Below are few episodes from our past Okie Recycling Tours.

Okie Recycling Tour Part 1 – Tulsa TRT

Okie Recycling Tour Part 2 – City of Stillwater

Okie Recycling Tour Part 3 – Keep McAlester Beautiful

Okie Recycling Tour Part 4 – Riverfield Country Day School

Okie Recycling Tour Part 5 – Bixby OK Tire and E-Waste collection event

Future Tours – Do you or your organization want to be featured in our next Okie Recycling Tour? If your answer is yes, please feel free to contact

Defending Recycling

Print or download the Defending Recycling information. (PDF)

How to Respond to Attacks on Recycling
Published Summer 2000 by the NRC

A Five-Step Approach to Defend Recycling
Responses to 10 Common Anti-Recycling Arguments
1. Recycling costs too much.
2. Recycling should pay for itself.
3. Recycling causes pollution.
4. Recycling doesn't save trees or other natural resources.
5. There is no landfill crisis.
6. Landfills and incinerators are safe.
7. If recycling makes sense, the free market will make it happen.
8. There are no markets for recyclables.
9. We are already recycling as much as we can.
10. Recycling is a burden on families.


Whether it’s by national newspapers, network TV, or conservative think tanks, attacking recycling is a popular way to make headlines. But as recycling professionals know, the overwhelming majority of these attacks are based either on oversimplifications of complex environmental issues or on political philosophies out of step with mainstream America.

The sound bites are hard to beat: Recycling is a waste. There is no landfill crisis. Recycling doesn’t save trees. These statements are both short and provocative—in other words, perfect for the news media. The idea of bashing recycling is so compelling that "the evils of recycling mania" is even used as an example of how to get publicity by being contrarian in Jay Levenson’s popular "Guerilla Marketing" series.

As tempting as it is to draft a long letter with statistics and anecdotes to counter every negative point made about recycling, the reality is that long letters to the editor rarely get printed. So how can a recycling advocate respond?

With this fact sheet, the NRC recommends a five-part strategy to respond nationally and locally to attacks on recycling. Since most decisions about recycling programs are made at the local level, we suggest that you spend most of your energy responding locally, even to national attacks. We also offer some sound bites of our own in response to ten of the most frequent attacks on recycling. Use them in your letters to the editor, talking points for interviews with reporters, and speech notes for local leaders.

A Five-Step Approach to Defend Recycling

1. Respond to the Source.

Send letters to the editor for print pieces and to the producers for radio and TV spots. If you want your letter to be printed, it must be short and to the point. While letter lengths vary among publications, most are between 50 and 100 words. That’s not much space, so stick to one or two key points. A well-crafted and focused letter is more likely to be printed than one that addresses too many points in too little space.

If you don’t expect your letter to be printed and are writing to educate the editor or producer instead, suggest some positive story angles in addition to correcting inaccuracies in previous stories. Remember, anti-recycling messages make the news because they are contrarian or counterintuitive. Try to use this motivation to your advantage by coming up with a surprising twist or unique angle. Also think of ways that recycling could be related to other hot news stories (e.g., global warming, the economy, elections, etc.).

2. Give rebuttals to local opinion leaders.

Don’t wait for the people who make decisions about your local recycling program to ask about the points made in an anti-recycling article. Supply them with brief responses to the main points in the article. Share anecdotes and statistics from your community program that show the benefits of recycling to your community. The longer you wait to provide positive information, the longer your decisionmakers have to wonder about the legitimacy of the negative articles. Prepare this material now so you can respond immediately after the next negative story appears.

3. Respond to copycat local critics.

Stories in major national newspapers (e.g., the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Wall Street Journal) are often reprinted in regional newspapers a day or two later. Local columnists often pick up national stories and write their own articles. For example, John Tierney’s 1996 article in the New York Times Magazine is still quoted by writers four years later. Respond to the copycats by following steps #1 and #2.

4. Generate positive publicity for recycling.

To generate positive publicity, you have to get writers and editors interested in the story. Sending press releases to local writers and editors on a regular schedule is a common approach. New statistics, contests, freebies, events, awards, and links to national stories are all good ways to get media attention.

Send your press releases to specific people. When environmental articles or upbeat features on community activities appear in your paper, take note of the writers’ names and add them to your mailing list. Staff writers can be reached at the publication. Freelance writers are often identified by the words "Special to (name of newspaper)" under their names. Newspapers will often provide contact information for their freelance writers.

5. Share what works.

If your letter to the editor gets printed or you convince a reporter to write a positive story, share your success with your peers through the NRC network.

Responses to 10 Common Anti-Recycling Arguments

When you write a letter to the editor or talk to a reporter, you rarely have the luxury of eloquently elaborating your points. Instead, you are required to fight sound bites with more sound bites. Many of the responses below will seem simplistic, but so are the anti-recycling messages they are meant to combat. The goal is to get your letter published and your points across—shorter letters and pithy answers have a much better chance of being printed than long, detailed ones.

If you do have the opportunity for a more lengthy response, you may find additional information on the National Recycling Coalition site.

1. Recycling costs too much.

  • Well-run recycling programs cost less than landfills and incinerators.
  • The more people recycle, the cheaper it gets.
  • Recycling helps families save money, especially in communities with pay-as-you-throw programs.
  • Recycling generates revenue to help pay for itself, while incineration and landfilling do not.

2. Recycling should pay for itself.

  • Landfills and incinerators don’t pay for themselves; in fact they cost more than recycling programs.
  • Recycling creates more than one million U.S. jobs in recycled product manufacturing alone.1
  • Hundreds of companies, including Hewlett Packard, Bank of America, and the U.S. Postal Service, have saved millions of dollars through their recycling programs.
  • Through recycling, the U.S. is saving enough energy to provide electricity for 9 million homes per year.2

3. Recycling causes pollution.

  • Recycling results in a net reduction in ten major categories of air pollutants and eight major categories of water pollutants.3
  • Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials.
  • Recycling trucks often generate less pollution than garbage trucks because they do not idle as long at the curb. If you add recycling trucks, you should be able to subtract garbage trucks.4
  • By 2005, recycling will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 48 million tons, the equivalent of the amount emitted by 36 million cars.1

4. Recycling doesn't save trees or other natural resources.

  • 94% of the natural resources America uses are non-renewable (up from 59% in 1900 and 88% in 1945). Recycling saves these non-renewable resources.1
  • With recycling, 20% more wood will need to be harvested by 2010 to keep up with demand. Without recycling, 80% more wood would need to be harvested.4
  • 95% of our nation’s virgin forests have been cut down and less than 20% of paper manufactured in the U.S. comes from tree farms.4
  • It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials.5 Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspaper 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%. Landfilling never saves energy.4
  • Recycling saves 3.6 times the amount of energy generated by incineration and 11 times the amount generated by methane recovery at a landfill.2
  • Using scrap steel instead of virgin ore to make new steel takes 40% less water and creates 97% less mining waste.3
  • Tree farms and reclaimed mines are not ecologically equivalent to natural forests and ecosystems. Recycling prevents habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and soil erosion associated with logging and mining.

5. There is no landfill crisis.

  • Recycling’s true value comes from preventing pollution and saving natural resources and energy, not landfill space.
  • Recycling is largely responsible for averting the landfill crisis.
  • Most states have less than twenty years of landfill capacity —who wants to live next to a new landfill?6
  • The number of landfills is decreasing, while the cost to send waste to them is on the rise.6

6. Landfills and incinerators are safe.

  • Landfills and incinerators can be major sources of pollution. For example, leachate from solid waste landfills is similar in composition to that of hazardous waste landfills.2
  • About 1/4 of the sites on the Superfund list (the nation’s most hazardous sites) are solid waste landfills.3
  • Landfills are responsible for 36% of all methane emissions in the U.S., one of the most potent causes of global warming.2
  • About 2/3 of operating landfills do not have liners to protect groundwater and drinking water sources.4
  • Landfill owners only have to check for groundwater contamination for 30 years. What happens afterwards?

7. If recycling makes sense, the free market will make it happen.

  • Government supports lots of services that the free market wouldn’t provide, such as the delivery of running water, electricity, and mail to our homes.
  • Unlike most public services, recycling does function within the market economy, and quite successfully.
  • If the market were truly free, long-standing subsidies that favor virgin materials and landfills would not exist, and recycling could compete on a level playing field.

8. There are no markets for recyclables.

  • Prices may fluctuate as they do for any commodity, but domestic and international markets exist for all materials collected in curbside recycling programs.
  • Demand for recycled materials has never been greater. American manufacturers rely on recyclables to produce many of the products on your store shelves.
  • By the year 2005, the value of materials collected for recycling will surpass $5 billion per year.1
  • All new steel products contain recycled steel.7
  • Over 1,400 products and 310 manufacturers use post-consumer plastics.8
  • In 1999, recycled paper provided more than 37% of the raw material fiber needed by U.S. paper mills.9

9. We are already recycling as much as we can.

  • The national recycling rate is 28%. U.S. EPA has set a goal of 35% and many communities are recycling 50% or more.3
  • Many easily recycled materials are still thrown away. For example, 73% of glass containers, 77% of magazines, 66% of plastic soda and milk bottles, and 45% of newspapers are not recycled.3
  • We are nowhere near our potential, especially if manufacturers make products easier to recycle.

10. Recycling is a burden on families.

  • Recycling is so popular because the American public wants to do it.
  • More people recycle than vote.10
  • More than 20,000 curbside programs and drop-off centers for recycling are active today because Americans use and support them.3

Statistical sources: (1) Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, (2) Environmental Defense, (3) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (4) Natural Resources Defense Council, (5) Aluminum Association, (6) Biocycle Magazine, (7) Steel Recycling Institute, (8) American Plastics Council, (9) American Forest & Paper Association, (10) Resource Recycling Magazine.

World’s Shortest Comprehensive Recycling Guide

Print or download the World's Shortest Recycling Guide (PDF)

Good to recycle
Bad to recycle
Unbroken glass containers
Clear is the most valuable. Lids can go with metal.
Ceramics, pyrex, tableware, windows, lightbulbs, mirrors. Broken glass is hard to sort. Only bottle glass is acceptable. Ceramics contaminate glass. Glass is normally color sorted for recycling.
Clean dry newspapers &
newspaper inserts
Rubber bands, plastic bags, product samples, water, dirt, mold or other contamination. Pack newspapers tightly in large brown grocery sacks or tie with natural twine. Keep dry.
Empty metal cans, caps, lids, bands and foil Full cans, spray cans unless instructed, cans with paint or hazardous waste. Metals can be recycled again and again.
Plastic stamped #1 or #2
on the bottom.
Some areas only accept clear plastic or certain shapes.
Plastic types #3, #4, #5, #6 or especially #7. Caps are usually a different type from the bottle - toss if unmarked. Even a small amount of the wrong type of plastic can ruin a melt. Much plastic collected for recycling is actually landfilled.
Grocery bags, most clear plastic bags especially if marked #2 or #4 Paper, water, dirt, mold or other contamination. Reduce your need; reuse bags until they're torn. Use old bags to pick up dog waste. Many grocery stores have a barrel for recycling old bags.
Mixed paper: junk mail, magazines, photocopies, computer printouts, cereal/shoe boxes, etc. (some places also take corrugated cardboard and phone books) Stickers, napkins, tissues, waxed paper, milk cartons, carbon paper, laminated paper (fast food wraps, some food bags, drink boxes, foil), neon paper, thermal fax paper. Any wet or food stained paper. When in doubt, throw it out.Paper fiber can be recycled about 7 times before it gets too small. Plastic window envelopes are ok.
Scrap aluminum such as lawn chairs, window frames and pots Metal parts attracted to magnets. Non-metal parts. Aluminum is not attracted to magnets.
There is no need to remove labels or bands from cans and bottles. Clean only enough to prevent odors. Do not recycle containers with traces of hazardous materials. Do not recycle dirty or food stained paper.


Motor oil (never dump into storm drains) and Tires. Call your garbage company, local quick-lube, tire shop or call 1-800-MOTOROIL. Old oil and old tires are serious problems.
Automotive batteries, sealed lead/gel-cell batteries Keep lead out of the environment; take to an automotive or security dealer for recycling or trade in.
Rechargeable batteries (cordless phone, camcorder, shaver, portable appliance, computer, etc.) Call 1-800-8BATTERY for information. Throw alkaline and heavy duty batteries in trash unless prohibited (See California Universal Waste Note. Nickel-Cadmium rechargeable batteries contain toxins, please recycle.
Laser/Ink printer cartridges Send to one of the many recyclers or refillers.
Household toxics (paints, oils, solvents, pesticides, cleaners) Call your garbage company for advice. Do not dump into storm drains.
Computers, eyeglasses, household goods Donate to charity. Give to a repair shop.
This is world's shortest comprehensive USA/Canada recycling guide. Contains generalizations; local procedures may differ. From the Consumer Recycling Guide, "www.obviously.COM/recycle/". ©1997-2006 Evergreen Industries. Remember: Unless you buy recycled products, you are not recycling.

How to Start, Expand or Promote a Recycling Program

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


Learn how to consume and throw away less.

  • Adbusters fronts an effort to reduce resource consumption by promoting events such as “Buy Nothing Day” the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Air Quality Health Advisory sign up. An Air Quality Health Advisory will be issued if/when ozone levels reach unhealthy for sensitive groups level.
  • Energystar (EPA) helps you reduce your energy consumption with EnergyStar appliances and home improvement ideas.
  • Greener Cars is a source for seeing the resource consumption of specific cars.
  • Home Energy Saver helps you reduce your energy consumption with economic energy solutions.
  • Oklahoma Star Incentive Program (DEQ) informs you how to reduce or eliminate the creation of pollutants and waste at the source.
  • Use Less Stuff (DEQ) is heading up a campaign to reduce the resource consumption of citizens across the state.


Learn how to reuse items which keeps them out of the waste stream and doesn’t require reprocessing like recycling does.


Learn about recycling which turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources.

Various recycling programs in Oklahoma:

Oklahoma Department of Central Services State Materials Recycling Program

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful: KOB has 40 recycle bins (with lids) available for you to check out & use at your next event.

Green Oklahoma - A news and resource site for all things green in Oklahoma.

Number of beverage cans and bottles that have been landfilled, littered, and incinerated in the U.S. so far this year according to the Container Recycling Institute (CRI):
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*If you know of a program or site that you feel should be added send us a note with the web address and why.

Updated 4/26/18

Educational Resources for Schools


Solid Waste Management Resource Trunks are  available for loan to K-12 educators! Trunks feature a ‘Close the Loop’ display component with tabletop display and samples of items made from recyclable materials. Also included in the trunks are activities and resources on topics such as: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Backyard Composting; Household Hazardous Waste; Illegal Dumping and Littering; and much more. Solid Waste Management Resource Trunks are funded by a grant provided to Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development. Click here for description of contents and loan application.


Over 40 DVDs are available for loan at no charge, courtesy of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Waste Management Program, with funding from the USDA.  Titles may be sorted by topic, age level, release date, length, etc.  Click here for the title list and application.

(elementary / middle school)

(high school)

Oklahoma manufacturers that use recycled materials in their processes

Anchor Glass Container Plant, Henryetta

Ardagh Group, Sapulpa
Atlas Roofing, Ardmore
Dlubak Glass, Okmulgee
Georgia Pacific, Muskogee
International Paper Company, Valliant
Orchids Paper Products, Pryor
Owens-Illinois Glass Containers, Muskogee
Republic Paperboard Company, Lawton
Western Fibers, Hollis

(as of 7/21)

How to start your own paper recycling business

by Butch Adamick edited by Rodney Hendershott

Click here for book recommendations

Click here for Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Recycling Information

One of the easiest, and in fact one of the oldest ways of making extra money, is by collecting old newspapers and selling them to a recycling plant in your locale.

Believe it or not, you can develop a very respectable income collecting and selling paper to the recycling centers. It certainly does not take any education, specialized training or experience; it's as simple as saving your old newspapers and turning them in to a central collection depot.

Some "paper recyclers" are making more than $100,000 a year in this business. If other people are doing it, then there's no reason YOU can't do it too! About the only equipment you'll need is a pickup truck or a trailer that can be pulled along behind your personal car. We even found one "old timer" who was collecting paper in this area with a pushcart! While interviewing him, we found that he was deliberately choosing not to expand, although he very definitely could have.

Make no mistake about it we live in a paper world. Americans use 200 million tons of paper a year--for everything from daily newspapers to books and cardboard boxes. After a quick use, we throw away at least 100 million tons of paper, almost all of which could be recycled. This means that there's about 8 billion dollars worth of paper out there that can be collected and recycled each year. So if you are looking to start a business with real profit potential, what are you waiting for?

Just look around your own home, garage or basement, for instance. What do you do with the old newspapers after you've read them? How about all the mail you get each week? Chances are this waste paper just piles up in a corner of the garage or basement until one of the kids asks if he can haul it off for the school or cub scout paper drive. Or maybe your wife and kids get ambitious some weekend, clean out the garage and haul it off to the collection truck at one of the local shopping centers. (We said maybe!)

It's true that selling stacks of newspapers that you've accumulated during the past couple of months or so won't make you rich. In fact, it's doubtful your own accumulation of paper will add up to a ton a year, and that certainly won't amount to much in extra income. But think about the tonnage involved in the stacks of old newspapers you can collect from your relatives, friends and neighbors. You could easily collect 100-pound sack of old newspapers from the people in your neighbor each week---and that's your immediate neighborhood.

And then think about the total extra income you would have when you have hauled all this paper down to the recycling depot. If you're serious, and get yourself properly prepared, you can easily make $300 or more every weekend, and it won't involve all your time. Some planning and effort on your part are the prime requisites.

Start by clearing a space in your garage for storage. One side of a two-car garage, or any 8 by 12 foot space should be sufficient. If you have a garden shed that's dry, that would work well also. We've even seen some paper collectors even rent space in a neighborhood mini-warehouse. We've even seen some paper collectors store their paper on pallets in their backyards, using tarpaulins to keep it dry. The important thing is to have a space available to store your collected paper until you're ready to haul it to the recycling depot.

Being a firm believer in doing as little as possible of the physical work involved in any business. I recommend you hire people to do a lot of this for you. By that I mean you should contact all the cub scouts, girl scouts, and civic organizations in your area; tell them you'll pay them money for the paper they collect and turn in to you. At the same time, contact the counselors at the schools and colleges in your area and tell them you'll pay them for all the paper they collect. The idea is to get everyone in your area collecting paper for you, eliminating the need to do the actual collecting your self.

How much of the gross profit you allow or pay these people who do the actual collection is up to you. The average rate is $25 to $30 per ton when you are getting $50 per ton.

In the beginning, you may have to make a sign and tape it to the side of your pickup or car, and "pound the payment" yourself, but you would expect to do this in starting any business. Basically, there's nothing to this except that it takes time you could be using to do other things; but is there anything more important than getting your new business "off the ground?

A simple sign such as JOE'S PAPER RECYCLING SERVICE--Phone 123-4567, is about all that's necessary. You could have this put on a magnetic mat at most quick print shops. Have a college art student make one up for you on butcher paper, or have a professional sign painter produce one for you on a heavy card stock.

With this sign on the side of your pickup, car, or trailer, simply drive through the residential neighborhoods of your area. Park in the middle of the block, get out and start knocking on doors, asking the residents if they have old newspapers or cardboard boxes they'd like for you to haul away for them. Generally, you'll get an armload of old newspapers at every house. Simply carry them to your pickup or trailer, then move on to the next house.

If you'll set up a definite route to follow, certain streets on certain days about once every two weeks, you'll find the homeowners will have stacks of paper waiting for you. Regardless of whether the person answering the door gives you a stack of paper, always leave a business card at each home.

Some paper recyclers offer to pay the people saving newspapers for them, and having it ready for them when they make their collection rounds. Generally, this isn't necessary. If you'll develop regular collection days for each street or neighborhood, you'll find the people putting papers out for you just as they set out their garbage for collection.

There are even some paper recyclers who charge the people to haul their paper away. This isn't advisable, because once you start hauling rubbish you'll end up doing clean-up work, and hauling more to the dump than you do to the recycling depot.

Once you have your collection routes organized, you can hire students to make your collection rounds after school, and haul the paper to your storage center. You can set up crews of three--one to drive the truck or car while the others knock on doors on each side of the street.

Depending on how much paper each route gives you every two weeks, you could have a crew working several routes each day for minimum wage, probably a couple of tons of paper for every three hours of work.

Again, by hiring other people to do the actual collection work for you, you'll only free yourself for other work, but you'll be making more money: Three people can do MORE in LESS TIME than ONE PERSON.

The next thing is to set up an area-wide collection depot. This could be a pre-fab building on a vacant lot, a vacant car lot, or a closed service station.

In setting up an area-wide (or neighborhood) collection depot, you will need space--some sort of shed to store or stack papers in until you load them up and haul them to the recycling center where you sell them. You'll need a scale to weigh them, and some sort of office or desk space to manage your cash and books.

You'll need space enough for your customers to drive beside the scale and unload their papers, and at the same time an arrangement whereby you can pay them immediately. A vacant service station would be ideal. Your customers can pull in just as if they were going to purchase gasoline; you could have your scale set between the driveways where the gas pumps are usually located, and store your accumulating loads in the service area of the building.

In most cities or counties, you'll need a business license or permit. For more details, see our report, BASIC STEPS TO STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

You'll need a couple of signs, one on each side of the driveway. These will announce the fact that you buy old newspapers. They need not be anything fancy, just simple attention-getting announcements that you're open for business and paying for paper. Generally, the going rate for newspapers dropped off at a central collection depot is 2 cents per pound, and the papers need not be bundled. This will give the sellers $40 a ton for dropping them off, and at $50 a ton, that will work out to $10 per ton profit for you. (again, these rates are rising, so be sure you are absolutely current by checking out the going price in your area.)

In addition to old newspapers, you should organize your time and schedule to call upon all the businesses, stores and warehouse in your area. Talk to the business owners or store managers and ask them if you can haul away their old cardboard boxes.

If there's competition in your area, you might end up having to pay for these boxes, provided they're clean. The thing to do is to call everybody who uses paper products or cardboard boxes. Remember, the more people you have giving you paper, the more money you are going to make. Many already established recycling services do not bother with smaller stores and warehouses, but these add up quickly if you are diligent in finding a number of them.

Check close by in your surrounding area, and find out if the businesses are satisfied with their present pick-up system. Ask first if you can "have" their old boxes; many of the smaller stores will give them to you because it decreases the load for their rubbish service to haul away. Where necessary, offer to pay 2 cents per pound if they'll save them for you.

As mentioned before, the important thing is to get everyone providing paper for you. You want people to collect the papers and have them ready for you to pick up on your designated collection day. Besides that, you start making really big money when you can park your truck in one place and fill it up from a group of closely located stores or businesses. With this in mind, you could conceivably drive trough four blocks, making one stop in the middle of each block, and have a ton or more paper or cardboard boxes every fourth block.

To efficiently handle cardboard boxes you'll need a sharp knife with which to slit the sides of the boxes and flatten them as you load them onto your truck or trailer. A simple "handyman's" utility knife costing about $5 will handle this chore for you with ease. When you buy one, though, be sure to buy an extra supply of blades because cutting through cardboard will dull your knife very quickly.

Another paper products source: The offices in your area, particularly those with computers. The age of computers has ushered in more reports for offices then ever before, adding reams of paper to the average office trash basket. When you visit these offices, take along a couple of "Save-a-Tree" boxes and ask the office people to discard all their waste paper into these boxes for you---letters, envelopes, outdated reports and files. You can usually get the "Save-a-Tree" boxes at your local recycling depot. We're talking about 35 to 45 pounds of paper when the box is full. Most offices will fill one of these boxes in a week or two, depending, of course, upon their volume of paperwork. And while you're on this kind of "foraging" trip, don't forget to check in all the print shops. They waste and throw away almost as much paper as they sell.

It will pay you to contract for a quarter page ad, or the largest ad available that you can afford, in the yellow pages of your area telephone and business directories. Whether or not you advertise the prices you pay in the ad is entirely up to you, but generally it's not a good idea to do so, because you would be stuck with those rates over the year. You might word your ad to explain that you pay one rate per pound when the paper is brought to you, and other rate when you pick it up and haul it away.

At the same time, you should run a regular classified ad, perhaps even one with words in the Contract Jobs section of your daily paper. Your best advertising days will be Thursday through Saturday. These are the days when people are specifically thinking about cleaning up around the house or offices. Also, these are the days when people think about what they can do to earn extra money.

This is the kind of business that "snowballs" with visibility and word-of-the-mouth advertising. It will definitely benefit you, then, to join the various civic and service clubs in your area, attend their luncheons and mingle with the business leaders in your area. Volunteer to assist in some fund-raising events, and whenever possible, become a quest speaker and tell about your business.

It isn't hard to stand up before a group of people and talk about your business, particularly if you know what you're talking about and believe in what your saying. It does take at least an outline of a script, perhaps a few notes, a rehearsal and the essential ingredient of enthusiasm.

Make your talk interesting and informative. Do some research and present statistics on how much paper the people of this country use each year. Explain the limited supply of timber, and the need to recycle as much as possible. Detail how these facts and figures opened your eyes, and caused you to do something about it; to open your own recycling center. And then explain how the recycling business is an avenue for everyone to benefit; the ideal fund-raising endeavor, a cleaner environment; and a chance to preserve some forest land.

Getting free publicity for a recycling center can be easy. In addition to serving as guest speaker before civic and service groups in your area, you may find radio and television stations and newspapers, and even weekly shoppers guides anxious to give you time or space.

By all means, try to get a story into these people detailing your grand opening, follow-up with appearances on talk shows, and press releases about the different organizations raising money by collecting newspapers and turning them in to you. Set up a contest among the different organizations, with prizes for the teams or organizations collecting the most paper. Hold special "Seniors Days" when you pay extra for all paper turned in by persons of a certain age. Keep an eye out for angles such as the largest amounts turned in, and stories about your regular collectors who keep turning in paper regular until they attain money goals.

Emphasize to your publicity contacts that recycling is a kind of community service that benefits all citizens. You're cleaning the environment, conserving timber, and putting money into the pockets of all who participate. Think about it; submit press releases to the media; calling them and inviting them to cover human stories emanating form your business!

This business takes organization, some energy on your part, and at least in the beginning, your time. But if you put forth the effort as we have outlined, there's no reason you shouldn't easily realize a very comfortable income with your own RECYCLING BUSINESS. It takes effort on your part, but if you're looking for a lucrative business, you have here a plan to act on!

Book Recommendations

If you are serious about starting a paper recycling business, I suggest that you invest in the following books:

Recycled Papers : The Essential Guide

Recycled Paper Technology : An Anthology of Published Papers

Get Informed

Reducing Waste At Home



A good portion of what you throw in the garbage each day is paper. Much of the paper generated in our homes comes in the mail. The average American household receives more than 500 pieces of advertising mail each year.

Take action to reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive.

  • If you want to get off most national marketing lists, you can register with the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service.
  • If you just want to stop certain catalogs, you can contact individual mailers and ask them to remove your name from their mailing lists; call them or send your request by mail or e-mail.
  • There's also a toll-free number to stop mailings of credit card offers. One call to 1-888-5-OPT-OUT will reach the major national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Have your Social Security number ready — they will ask you for it to confirm your identity.

Recycling junk mail is okay, but reducing the flow of junk mail will conserve natural resources, save landfill space, and save you time and money.

Packaging makes up 30 percent of municipal solid waste. You can reduce the amount of packaging you throw in the garbage by purchasing items that have less packaging.


  • Reduce the amount of packaging by purchasing concentrates and diluting them with water in reusable containers.
  • Avoid single-serving products in favor of larger servings or buying in bulk.
  • Take your own reusable cloth bag so you don't need "paper or plastic."

Over-packaged products often cost more than less-packaged products. This means that you can save money when buying products with less packaging.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 27 percent of the nation's total food supply — 97 billion pounds — went to waste in 1995. Food is wasted in many ways, such as preparing too much, letting fresh food go bad and buying too much.


  • Planning meals and creating a list of products needed before shopping will help you buy exactly what you need.
  • Composting leftover fruit and vegetable food waste with your yard waste helps create high-nutrient compost.
  • Donate excess canned goods to a food bank.

Making better use of the food you buy will save you money and reduce how much food you throw away. Composting the remaining food waste will provide you with a great additive for your garden.

Reducing Waste at School


There are lots of ways that we can reduce waste at school. By thinking ahead and being creative, you can reduce your impact on the environment and save money at the same time.

A "waste-free lunch" is a meal that does not end up in the trash. You can buy food items in bulk then put them in reusable containers to carry to school. (Additional information is available from the DEQ at 405.702.5166.)

Use a reusable lunch box or bag and fill it with your lunch in reusable containers. You could also include a cloth napkin – don't forget to bring it home so you can wash it and use it again. Another idea is to ask your school cafeteria to use items such as reusable trays, napkins and silverware.

You create less waste by using washable containers to pack your lunch. Packing your food in reusable containers is typically less expensive than buying food that comes in disposable containers.

More than 20 percent of the food we buy gets thrown away. One way to figure out how much food you waste is to measure and track all the food you throw away from your lunch over a fixed period of time. Then you could brainstorm ways to reduce how much food you are throwing in the garbage. Eat what you take.

If you are bringing lunch from home, you can use an icepack so that it stays fresh until it is eaten. If you buy from the school cafeteria, only take a small portion of food; if you're still hungry, go back for seconds!

About 48 million tons of food are thrown away in the United States each year. By taking only what you can eat or sharing your extras with a friend, you are taking steps to waste less and save money.

Reduce Your Use of Office Paper


Copy paper, like the kind used in photocopiers, computer printers and plain-paper fax machines, is the most common type of office waste paper.

  • According to the U.S. EPA, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
  • The U.S. EPA estimates that paper and paperboard account for almost 40 percent of our garbage.
  • Office paper is highly recyclable, but a lot is wasted. Waste reduction is more cost-effective than recycling because it reduces the amount of material that needs to be collected, transported and processed. Waste reduction can save money for businesses and institutions of any size.
  • Nearly 3.7 million tons of copy paper are used annually in the United States alone. That's over 700 trillion sheets.

Paper is bulky to store, in boxes or in file cabinets. By using fewer sheets, you can put storage space to more productive use.

For example, Owens Corning recently made all of its offices worldwide "paperless." Having had 14,000 file cabinets around the world, the company has already saved around $30 million in lease costs.

Mailing costs
Fewer sheets mailed may mean reduced postage. A single-sided 10-page letter costs $0.60 to mail; that same letter, copied onto both sides of the paper, uses only five sheets and requires only $0.39 in postage. The price of postage is rising, and those extra ounces can really add up.

Environmental benefits
By increasing double-sided copying (duplexing), U.S. offices could reduce annual paper use by 20 percent (Inform, Inc).

By using and discarding less paper, you are conserving resources, reducing water and energy use, and preventing pollution.


  • Try to use both sides of a sheet of paper for printing, copying, writing and drawing.
  • Reuse paper that's already printed on one side by manually feeding it into copiers and printers. Use it for internal documents like drafts and short-lived items such as meeting agendas or temporary signs.
  • Once-used paper can also be reused in plain paper fax machines — they only need one clean side.
  • Use less paper E-mail can be used to share documents and ideas. Be sure to only print the e-mails you need to have a hard copy of. This advice goes for Internet documents as well. Instead of printing a Web page, bookmark it or save the page on your hard drive and pull it up when needed.
  • Desktop fax, electronic references (CD-ROM databases), electronic data storage, electronic purchasing and direct deposit are all ways to use electronic media that reduce office paper waste.
  • Help minimize misprints by posting a diagram on how to load special paper like letterhead so it will be printed correctly. * Practice efficient copying — use the size reduction feature offered on many copiers. Two pages of a book or periodical can often be copied onto one standard sheet.
  • Use two-way or send-and-return envelopes. Your outgoing envelope gets reused for its return trip.
  • Use reusable inter- and intra-office envelopes.
  • Reuse old paper for notepads. It can be cut to custom sizes and simply bound with a staple.
  • Draft documents can be reviewed, edited and shared on-screen.

The National Recycling Coalition recently published Purchasing Strategies to Prevent Waste and Save Money. This publication contains many useful ideas on how to purchase products that create less waste. Remanufactured toner cartridge Here are some purchasing ideas for offices to make the workplace more environmentally friendly.

  • Refurbish and buy refurbished office equipment.
  • Reuse and refill toner cartridges and ribbons.
  • Purchase non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners that contain low- or no-volatile organic compounds.
  • Buy concentrates.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Buy products that are reusable, returnable or refillable.
  • Buy recycled office products that contain post-consumer recycled material.
  • Use flexible interior features, such as movable walls, to reduce waste associated with renovation.
  • Choose durable materials and furnishings to reduce the costs and waste associated with replacement.

Tips for Reducing Waste while Traveling


The U.S. Travel Data Center estimates that 43 million U.S. travelers are "ecologically concerned." There are several ways that travelers can reduce waste while traveling. Here are just a few ideas to get started.

  • Businesses are responsive to their guests, customers and clients who voice concerns, so speak up. If you have compliments or comments regarding their company's environmental performance, write a note or speak directly to the general manager of the hotel, the operator of a resort or campground, the captain of the airplane, or the manager of your tour company.
  • Book your guestrooms, campsites or meeting rooms in places that are clearly interested in protecting our environment, and let management know that's why you've chosen their establishment. Encourage the places you visit to reduce waste and to implement water- and energy-saving measures.
  • Use reusable bags, storage containers and towels. Rent equipment, avoid disposables, and pack waste-free picnics by bringing reusable containers and recyclables home with you. Buy fruits and vegetables without packaging.
  • Purchase electronic tickets for air travel whenever possible.
  • Going on a fishing trip? Use non-lead sinkers. This will protect wildlife from lead poisoning.
  • Gas boats on land instead of in the water to reduce pollution in lakes and rivers.
  • Upgrade to the most efficient boat motor. A 4-stroke engine is quieter, 40 times cleaner, and 2 to 4 times more fuel-efficient than a 2-stroke engine.
  • Keep campfire ash far from lakeshores to protect water quality.