Reduce, Reuse And Recycle

The motto “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” is a familiar call for those who care about protecting the earth and conserving its resources. It is often seen in environmental literature and heard among those who seek to preserve the ecology of this fragile planet. As much as we may agree with the values of ecology, it can be overwhelming to establish policies and practices at a camp to actually carry out our good intentions.

Since it is often difficult to translate the motto into a business plan–particularly when it affects the limited financial resources of a camp–here are some practical suggestions that are both environmentally friendly and cost-effective.


1. Get more use from printer and copier paper.

• Buy recycled paper and tell campers and guests that everything is printed on this type of paper. Although it may be slightly more expensive, the cost will decrease as more and more people use the paper.

• Use both sides of printer paper. Unless there is a lot of moisture in the camp office, printer paper can be reused for drafts of documents or internal memos.

• Cut used paper into 5½-inch by 4-inch scraps, and use it instead of printed memo paper or expensive sticky notes. Attach them with reusable paper clips.

2. Promote donations of used items.

• Collect all the gently used donations you can’t use, and hold a yard sale at an open house or a local community event. Use the money for camperships or to purchase recycling bins.

• Promote the event and invite friends of the camp to donate items, or they can set up their own booth for a small fee.

3. Keep equipment in good repair.

Although the immediate cost of a repair may seem daunting, the long-range savings make it worthwhile. Not only will it save the expense of new equipment, but it will save that old equipment from taking up space in a landfill.

• Look into bartering. Perhaps a nearby school, camp or business has equipment you need once or twice a year, and you have equipment they can use occasionally. Then share the upkeep of thee equipment.


4. Eliminate Styrofoam and plastic bottles.

Both are expected to stay in landfills for up to a million years before breaking down!

• Carry a coffee mug or water bottle, and encourage staff members to do the same. Model this behavior at community meetings or presentations. This is a simple step for those interested in saving the earth’s resources.

• Encourage campers to bring a water bottle to camp–or to buy one at the camp store–to reuse often. Make arrangements to wash the bottles during the week–perhaps during one meal before the dishes come back. Educate campers about the landfill realities of plastic bottles as part of their orientation to camp.

• Invite off-season guests to bring their own cup or bottle, or to mark one of the camp’s bottles for use during the event. Think of how many times people only use a cup or glass once and then get a fresh one because they don’t know where the first one is. Again, remind guests they can continue to make this same effort at home. Post information about the long life of plastic and Styrofoam and their effect upon landfills.

Visit Click on “Life of Litter.”


5. Buy products with less packaging and/or packaging made with recycled content.

Pay attention to the packaging on products. How much plastic is used to protect the product? Recycle cardboard packaging.

• One advantage camps have is the ability to buy in bulk. Encourage the food-service director to make bulk purchases whenever possible.


6. Eliminate disposable products.

Go for reusable, fixable and washable items.

• Replace paper napkins with cloth ones in the dining room. Although this may be a costly one-time purchase, the money–and trees–saved will be considerable.

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