Reduce, Reuse And Recycle

• Replace paper towels in the kitchen with a bag of rags to wipe hands and wash pots, pans and countertops. The cost of detergent and water will be less than continuously purchasing paper.


7. Choose CFL light bulbs.

CFL bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Light) use 75-percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.

• According to the EPA, every incandescent bulb replaced with a CFL saves enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year. Think what this would mean for a camp’s electric bill!

• One camp invited everyone attending a cleanup event to bring several light bulbs. By the end of the day, all of the light bulbs in camp had been switched.


8. Save water.

• Place a sign over each sink at camp stating, “Please turn off the water while brushing your teeth. You will save 3 to 5 gallons of water for every minute the water doesn’t run.”

• Turn down hot water heaters to 110 F, put displacement devices in toilet tanks, and install aerators in showerheads. One of these will save energy and water; all of these will save a lot of energy (therefore money) and water.



9. Add recycling containers with the “recycle” logo.

• Put a container next to every soda machine and those places–especially the staff lounge–where people drink soda.

• Near each container, post information about the energy and resources saved by recycling one can.

• Make recycling containers from regular trashcans, and have a contest to see which camp group can spraypaint the most creative design.


10. Create a recycling area.

• Schedule a time for campers to help in the recycling area. Explain the need for flattening boxes, sorting glass by color, and squashing plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

• Include information about the benefits of recycling and conserving resources in sessions.

• Purchase cotton shopping bags in bulk so every camper can tie-dye or screen-print a bag to take home. Encourage them to write a letter to their parents explaining how the bag will save trees and reduce the use of plastics.

• Contact a local waste-management system for details on which items are accepted for recycling, and where they can be taken.

• Plan a session during staff training so that everyone understands the recycling practice.


Make a long-term plan to integrate earth-friendly practices into the business operation. Do not try to start everything at once, but phase in changes over time. Stay informed about products, equipment, companies and issues that can help the camp’s commitment to “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.”

Maile Armstrong is a former camp director, and now operates Armstrong Unlimited in Montvale, Va., providing services for camps and youth programs. She specializes in staff-training workshops, first-aid and CPR, program development and risk management, as well as sales and placement of AEDs.

Nancy Ferguson is a church-camp professional living on the eastern shore of Virginia near Chincoteague Island, where she creates resources for camp leaders and staff. She is the author of six books and a frequent workshop leader at camp conferences. Visit her Web site at www.BlueTreeResources .org.

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