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Recycle Indiana

Recycle Indiana > Measure Your Impact Measure Your Impact

Your everyday actions and decisions have a direct impact on the amount of waste generated in Indiana. Even a simple act like discarding a disposable coffee cup, which seems like an insignificant amount of waste, can quickly add up if thousands or millions of your fellow Hoosiers do the same. Changing your behavior and encouraging others to consider waste prevention can make a difference.

Thousands looked at their impact during Super Bowl XLVI. Read all about how Hoosiers helped make this year’s game one of the biggest winners for the environment in the Super Bowl XLVI Sustainability Report [PDF].

You can measure your impact for all of the items below, or choose a specific item or items:

Paper Towels

Paper towels are everywhere. We use them at home, in the workplace, and in public restrooms. Sure, they're convenient, but reusable cloth rags, dishcloths, hand towels, and sponges can do the same job.

I use a paper towel time(s) per week.

If everyone used paper towels this often, here's how many tons would be discarded each year:

Magazines and Catalogs

Magazines and catalogs can stack up in your home before you even realize it. You chose to receive some, but others simply arrive in the mail, day after day. Recycling is an option, but preventing them from reaching you is a better strategy. Review your list of subscriptions and cancel those you don't have time to read. Contact catalog companies and ask them to remove your name from their mailing lists. Send the Stop Junk Mail Card to the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service. This can reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive.

I receive magazines and catalogs per month.

If everyone received this many magazines and catalogs, here's how many tons of paper would be discarded each year:

Trash Bags

Do you buy trash bags? Save money and reduce waste by reusing grocery and other types of bags that might otherwise be thrown away. If you have to buy trash bags, consider purchasing ones made with recycled plastic.

We use trash bags each week.

If every household used this many trash bags, here's how many tons would be discarded each year:


Razors are part of many Hoosiers' daily routine. You probably buy, use, and discard razors or razor heads repeatedly throughout the year. Using electric razors or reusable razors can reduce waste and save you money. Also, look for razors with less packaging. While these items may seem too small to worry about, consider what happens to Indiana's waste stream when everyone discards these items.

I use: disposable razors a reusable razor with disposable heads

I discard razors or razor heads each month.

If everyone did this, here's how many tons of waste would be generated every year:

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs are everywhere in our homes. They continually burn out and need to be replaced. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are a practical replacement, because they use much less energy, last 10 to 15 times longer, and produce much less heat. Turning off the lights in rooms that are not in use also will extend the life of light bulbs and save energy.

We change light bulb(s) every six months.

If every household discarded this many light bulbs, here's how many tons would be discarded each year:


Hoosiers are well-informed people. While the quantity of newspaper waste created each day is astounding, recycling can keep newspapers out of landfills. Another way to reduce the heaps of old newspapers and save money is to read the news online, since most of the major papers are now available on the internet.

I buy newspaper(s) every week.

If everyone bought this many newspapers, here's how many tons of paper would be discarded each year:


Every time you pick up an item from the dry cleaner, you bring home plastic dry cleaning bags and wire hangers. Choose a cleaner that offers reusable bags. Return hangers for recycling. Ask your cleaner to combine clothing articles into fewer bags. Visit the dry cleaner in our shopping tips for more information on reducing waste from dry cleaning.

I pick up clothes at the dry cleaners times per year.

I receive an average of hangers and plastic dry cleaning bags on each visit.

If everyone used the dry cleaners this often, here's how much waste would be generated each year:

Motor Oil

Many Hoosiers are do-it-yourselfers when it comes to car care. The problem comes when it is time to discard used motor oil. Dumping oil into storm drains can contaminate local waterways. Take used motor oil and other special waste, such as latex-based paint, household batteries, and fluorescent light tubes, to any certified waste drop-off centers. Did you know that a 42-gallon barrel of crude oil produces only 2.5 quarts of motor oil, but it takes only 1 gallon of used oil to produce those same 2.5 quarts?

I drain quarts of oil from my vehicle times in a year.

If everyone with a car performed this car maintenance, here's how much waste would be generated each year:

Plastic Milk and Water Jugs

The average Hoosier drinks more than 20 gallons of milk a year. In addition, many households purchase jugs of water instead of drinking tap water. A family of four is likely go through several plastic jugs each week. Plastic jugs are collected for recycling in many Indiana cities and towns. Subscribing to a water service, utilizing reusable water containers or installing a water treatment filter on your faucets would reduce the generation of plastic jugs.

We drink gallons of milk and/or water from plastic jugs each week.

If every household used this many jugs, here's how many tons would be generated each year:

Note: These figures are based on readily available population figures and other data derived from public sources. The resulting figures are estimates, based on a series of assumptions, and may not necessarily be accurate. The figures simply illustrate the potential impact of our personal activities.

IDEM wishes to express our appreciation to the New York City Department of Sanitation for use of this tool and King County, Washington for their liaison assistance.