Residential Waste Reduction

While recycling is a very important component of keeping usable materials out of our landfills, waste reduction is even more important. Listed below are ways the City of Lawrence residents can reduce the amount of waste they produce in their homes.

  • Ask yourself if you really need the product
  • Bring your own canvas tote bags instead of using a paper or plastic bag at a store
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins
  • Use durable products rather than disposable (e.g. plates, utensils, cloth towel, refillable pens, lighters, razors)
  • Use old cotton t-shirts for rags
  • Pack a no-waste lunch
  • Tell the cashier that you don’t need a bag for smaller purchases
  • Avoid products with excess packaging
  • Skip the individual plastic product bags
  • Skip the bottled water and bring your own from home
  • Borrow books from the Lawrence Public Library rather than purchasing them
  • Carry and use a reusable mug or cup at work or school
  • Stop unwanted junk mail and catalogs
  • Use a mulching mower or retrofit your mower to leave grass clippings on the lawn

Holiday Waste Reduction Tips

According to the Use Less Stuff (ULS) website, the average American household sees an increase of 25% in their waste production over the holiday season. This is about a 25 million ton increase going to our landfills each year. Listed below are three of the largest waste producing holiday along with tips for Lawrence residents on how to cut down on the amount of waste they are producing over the holiday season.


  • Old Christmas trees make a great habitat for animals so after the holiday is over contact your sanitation department to see about recycling options.
  • Consider buying a potted tree instead of cutting one down and planting it in the spring.
  • Unplug or turn off holiday lights during the day time. Also consider purchasing LED holiday lights for higher energy efficiency.
  • Wrap gifts in reusable bags people can continue to use, or wrap them in recycled paper such as newspaper.
  • Baked cookies and goodies given in reusable food storage containers make a great gift.
  • Send greeting cards made of out of recycled content.


  • Use washable plates, silverware, cups and napkins at holiday parties instead of disposable ones to cut down on waste.
  • Send leftovers home with friends and family in reusable food storage containers.
  • Donate any untouched food to local food pantries or soup kitchens.
  • Purchase cooking items in bulk so as to save time, money and an extra trip to the store. This will also cut down on excess packaging.
  • Decorate your home with natural items, such as leaves, pine cones, gourds, squashes or colored dried corn. All items can be composted after the holiday season.


  • When carving your Jack-o’-lantern, use the inner meat to make holiday favorites such as pumpkin pie, muffins or bread, and use the seeds to make a dried pumpkin seed snack.
  • After the holiday is over throw your Jack-o’-lantern into your compost pile.
  • When trick-or-treating take a reusable bag instead of a plastic one and reuse it from year to year.
  • Make your own costumes from old clothes or cloths bought from a consignment shop.
  • Donate old costumes to local theatres or schools for reuse in plays and other activities.

Yard Waste Reduction Tips

Yard waste can be turned into very valuable resources to be used again by homeowners and businesses­­­­ – compost and mulch. Listed below are tips on reducing waste in your yard as well as in your garden.

  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn, a technique called grasscycling.
  • Make compost out of your grass clippings. Mix them together with other yard trimmings, leaves, vegetable & fruit scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, stale bread, eggshells or shredded paper.
  • Plant seed starters for your garden in the base of 2-liter soda bottles, aluminum cans or egg cartons.
  • Purchase or build a rain barrel to catch runoff water from your roof to use on your garden.
  • Old gallon milk jugs can be used as pots for plants or as bird feeders.
  • Visit the City of Lawrence’s spring and fall compost and wood chip sales.

Business Waste Reduction

Waste reduction not only helps protect our environment and reduce pollution, but it also helps keep money within your business. Listed below are some tips on ways to reduce waste around your business.

  • Order merchandise with minimal packaging or layers of packaging
  • Request that deliveries be shipped in returnable containers
  • Order supplies by voice mail or electronic mail
  • Use reusable boxes and mailbags for shipping to branch offices, stores and warehouses
  • Reuse packing materials (e.g. foam peanuts, bubble wrap and cardboard boxes)
  • Return, reuse and repair wooden pallets and spools
  • Make double-sided copies whenever possible
  • Make scratch pads from used paper
  • Save documents on your computer or flash drives instead of printing hard copies
  • Use central files for hard copies
  • When circulating memos or documents use email
  • Only subscribe once to a magazine or newspaper and share it among everyone
  • Use durable, washable products in the kitchen instead of throw-away ones
  • Recycle and reuse toner cartridges
  • Refold and reuse file folders