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Three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


The best way to avoid garbage disposal problems is to reduce the amount of waste you make. To reduce waste means resource conservation through generating smaller amounts of, and less toxic, trash. Here's how:

Volume Reduction

  • Buy in bulk, large sizes or concentrates—it saves packaging and can save you money.
  • Buy products in recyclable packaging, such as plastic milk jugs instead of paper cartons.
  • Bring your own bags to the store when you shop, and reuse plastic and paper bags instead of buying new ones.
  • Refuse unnecessary packaging (for example, buy loose produce instead of packaged).
  • Write or photocopy on both sides of a sheet of paper.


  • Buy items that last longer.
  • Buy items that have good service warranties.

Less Toxic Substances

Choose non-toxic alternatives for household cleaners, insecticides, fertilizers, room deodorizers, drain cleaning solutions, and furniture polish. See more information on alternatives to and disposal of Hazardous Household Waste.


Many items can be reused, by you or someone else, instead of being thrown away as trash.

  • Clothing, furniture, and household appliances can be given away to non-profit organizations or sold in a garage sale. You can further encourage reuse by purchasing items at thrift shops, flea markets, and second-hand stores.
  • Used jars and plastic containers can be reused to store food and other items.
  • Plastic or paper grocery sacks can be reused on your next trip to the supermarket.
  • Instead of throwing away what remains of a can of pesticide or cleaning product, see if one of your neighbors can use it. Offer unneeded paint to an anti-graffiti or neighborhood beautification project.
  • Take a reusable coffee cup to work.
  • Return hangers to the cleaners.
  • Borrow, rent, or share tools, party supplies, and other items that you use infrequently.


Recycling is the collection of discarded materials (trash) and processing them into new forms which can be used as raw material for new products. The City of Albuquerque provides curbside recycling for its residents. Materials can also be dropped off at recycling drop off sites within the city. Many other materials can be recycled through commercial and other recycling outlets.

Buying products made from recycled materials helps to establish the demand for recycling. This is sometimes called "closing the loop." Whenever possible, buy recycled products. Ask your stores for recycled products or products that are packaged in recycled containers. Look for notations on product packaging, such as "printed on recycled paper."

Many materials can be made from recycled products. Here are some examples:

Recycled Plastic

  • plastic toys
  • plastic lumber
  • trash bags
  • automobile bumpers
  • plastic bottles
  • plumbing pipes
  • flower pots
  • insulation
  • food trays
  • writing tablets

Recycled Paper

  • photocopy paper
  • letterhead paper
  • newspaper
  • bags
  • gift wrap
  • paper towels
  • toilet paper

Recycled Aluminum

  • aluminum cans
  • pie pans
  • house siding
  • small appliances
  • lawn furniture
  • almost anything

Recycled Steel

  • steel cans
  • building materials
  • tools
  • almost anything steel

Recycled Glass

  • bottles
  • glassphalt
  • ceramics
  • soil enhancers (substrates and soil aerators)

Recycled Tires

  • asphalt
  • retread tires
  • playground toys

Many other sources of on-line information exist on the Three R's. Check our extensive list of related links to other web sites devoted to recycling and resource conservation.