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USE LESS STUFF DAY
Governor Frank Keating proclaimed November 18, as Use Less Stuff Day in Oklahoma. The fifth annual ULS Day, held the Thursday before Thanksgiving, is significant because it inaugurates the high-waste holiday season. During the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's, Americans produce an extra one million tons of trash per week, compared to any other time of the year. The idea behind ULS (Use Less Stuff) Day, founded by The ULS Report, is to bring waste prevention (or source reduction, as it is formally known) to the forefront of public consciousness, during the holiday season and throughout the year. Recycling gets a lot of attention, and although its importance cannot be understated, reducing waste in the first place (using less stuff) is still the number one priority in the war on waste. If we are to significantly reduce pollution and waste, we must emphasize source reduction. Remember that "reduce" is the first R in the EPA slogan, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!" .
Although Americans continue to recycle at higher rates, the massive amount of trash sent to landfill sites continues to grow. The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 1990, the national average of waste was 2.46 pounds per person, per day. However, Oklahomans continue to average 4 to 5 pounds of waste per person, per day. With 45 percent of Oklahoma's population now served by some type of recycling program, we should be doing better. However, to make a real impact on saving resources and energy, we must learn to not create so much waste in the first place, by reducing and reusing products and packaging. 
As with recycling, source reduction can be practiced effectively on a corporate, community, or personal level. It helps the environment, but it can also be financially rewarding. If you simply use less stuff, some good things will happen. For one thing, you'll save money every time you shop. Also, your town will save money. That's because the cost of preventing waste is zero, while the cost of recycling, not to mention land filling, can be very expensive. Thus, prevention means more money for important services such as education, crime prevention, road maintenance and human services. Source reduction therefore plays a major role in efforts to develop a sustainable society, one that makes efficient use of resources while minimizing impact on the environment.
The success of ULS Day in its first three years underscores the freshness of the waste reduction message. We must all learn to use less stuff, and with the mounting support of government, non-profit organizations, business and the public, awareness of this vital issue will continue to grow dramatically. Oklahoma's Use Less Stuff campaign, spearheaded by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, now has over thirty partners statewide. To join this effort or request 3" x 3" decals or 11" x 17" posters, contact <Susie.Shields@deqmail.state.ok.us> Also, watch for our ULS billboards in the OKC area this month.
Current Oklahoma Use Less Stuff Campaign partners currently include: Ardmore Beautification Council, Cameron University--CLEAN, Central Oklahoma Metropolitan Environmental Association, Cherokee Nation Environmental Services, Connors State College, Dustin Public Schools, ECO OSU, Fort James Paper Company, Great Plains RC&D, Green Team Architects, Henryetta High School, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, Metropolitan Environmental Trust, Norman Recycling Association, Nosey Neighbors Neighborhood Association, Oklahoma Association for Environmental Education, Oklahoma Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority, Oklahoma Environmental Quality Education Committee, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service, Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Oklahoma Wildlife Federation, OU Earth, University of Central Oklahoma--PEACE, Peace House, Piedmont Recyclers, Putnam City High School, Rose State College Environmental Technology Program, Solid Waste Institute of Northeast Oklahoma, Southwestern Oklahoma Development Authority (SWODA) and Yukon Recycles.

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