Hearts & Minds - Information for ChangeSM

Creative Ideas for the Environment

Here are some of the many ways you can use these ideas:

  • Brainstorm the problems in your own community and develop practical solutions.
  • Inspire and encourage yourself and your colleagues by the example of others who effectively faced similar problems.
  • Save time and energy with ideas that have already been tested and found effective.
  • Connect to the growing network of concerned individuals and organizations who recognize our problems and would rather work than weep.

Overcome "Recycling Burnout"
       Many people are giving up on recycling. Reasons why this is happening and what you can do about it include:

  • There is not enough demand for recycled products: Pay more attention to buying recycled goods.
  • Not getting around to it: Use a simple system to separate recyclables as they are trashed, and shop with the goal of bringing less disposables and other trash creators into your home.
  • Some products advertised as recycled really are not: Learn the facts, especially by asking manufacturers and retailers.
  • Much trash is not recycled by employers and other organizations: Ask them to start recycling.
  • You receive unwanted direct mail: Ask the Direct Marketing Association to take you off its members' lists:
    DMA Mail Preference Service
    Box 3861
    New York, NY 10163
  • Only some plastics are typically recycled: Look for recyclable codes #1 or #2 on the container; call your local recyclist to see what plastics are recycled.
  • The feeling that one person's efforts do not mean much: Remember that, together, individuals make an army.

SOURCE:"Recycling Fatigue," 7/92 McCall's, 110 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011 (212) 463-1430.

Five Experts Propose Solutions to the Garbage Problem

       McCall's asked five experts what they would do if they were named federal garbage czar. Here are effective ideas adaptable to local situations:

  • Seattle's senior recycling planner Ray Hoffman: Charge people for being wasteful. Seattle citizens pay for garbage pickup based on how much they recycle. Recycled materials are picked up free. Other garbage costs $13.57 a month for the first can; $9 for each additional.

1920s vanity/desk found on the sidewalk in New York City. You can also make our environment better by reusing things. Found by Jason, one of our volunteers. His blog.

  • University of Cincinnati ecologist Riley Kinman: Recycle as much as possible, burn some, and put the rest in landfills built to drain off the methane gas to use as fuel.
  • Environmental Action Foundation's Jeanne Wirka: Pass legislation to ban useless packaging.
  • Center for the Biology of Natural Systems Director Barry Commoner: Use only products that can be recycled. A test program showed 84% of waste can be recycled; the other 14% consists of materials that can be banned.
  • Institute for Local Self Reliance co-founder Neil Sidman: Use garbage recycling to create businesses in depressed areas. Use paper and metal scrap we now export to replace raw material we now import.

Source: "Five Plans to Solve the Garbage Mess," 8/90 McCall's, 110 Fifth Ave. 4th Floor, New York, NY 10011, 1-212-463-1478

Book Instructs Companies on Environmental Protection

       Keeping Your Company Green is a 92-page book published by Rodale Press. It offers clear, straightforward advice on how companies can be environmentally responsible and build a solid reputation for corporate responsibility, which ultimately helps business.

       The book is realistic in its approach, avoiding the excesses of some environmentalists. It covers many scientific developments affecting recycling. Subjects include office recycling, energy conservation, "green" packaging and environmentally-responsible direct mall. There are many examples from real companies, from giants like Procter & Gamble to smaller businesses like Ben & Jerry's. The book closes with a directory of green products and services. For a free copy, call Rodale Press: 1-215-967-5171, ext. 8345.
SOURCE: Rodale Press Inc., 33 East Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098, 1-215-967-8760

A Save-the-Environment Bestseller for $4.95
Fifty Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth is a soft-cover book published by the Earthworks Group. This popular book is direct, brief and suggests things every individual can do. Many organizations and companies buy copies in bulk for distribution. Suggestions range from recycling junk mail to avoiding Styrofoam and ways to burn less gasoline.
SOURCE: The Earthworks Group, Box 25, 1400 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709, 1-415-841-5866

"Materials for the Arts" Program Helps Nonprofit Organizations
       "Materials for the Arts" is a program in New York City that collects discarded items, cleans them up and donates them to nonprofit arts groups. In one stroke they help both nonprofit organizations and New York's garbage problem.


  • an old radio used in a play that takes place in the '40s
  • a derelict car becomes a prop in a children's performance
  • discarded fabrics are used to teach quilting at a homeless shelter

       Included among the beneficiaries are schools for the handicapped. A videotape of the show explains how similar programs can easily be set up in other cities.
SOURCE: Paragon Cable Manhattan, 5120 Broadway, New York, NY 10034, 1-212-304-3268

       These are selections from a booklet summarizing effective solutions for the Environment, one of 20 pamphlets in the Community Action Network Solutions Library. Each booklet has dozens of effective ideas.

       Since 1985, CAN has been gathering information revealing what people are doing to solve the problems that plague their communities.

       Hearts and Minds and CAN are two independent organizations that collaborate to help people help themselves and others more effectively.

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 Website Copyright: 1997 - 2015 by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc. 1920s vanity photo by Jason Zerdin at http://www.heartsandminds.org/nphelp/envideas.htm - online June 4, 2003, latest text changes February 21, 2006

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