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Pollution Prevention Week begins Sept. 15

P2 Week 2003 Turtle Poster


September 15 marks the start of National Pollution Prevention Week, an event that celebrates and promotes the benefits of pollution prevention, otherwise known as "P2."

Unfamiliar with P2? It's even better than recycling, says Laura Estes, an environmental specialist at Montana State University, because it prevents waste from being created in the first place.

"It's like the saying 'A stitch in time saves nine'," said Estes, coordinator of MSU Extension's Pollution Prevention Information Center. "It makes good sense to prevent pollution instead of cleaning it up. You often save money and time, and it only takes small decisions in everyday activities. The hard part is changing habits that are so ingrained we're almost unaware of them."

The theme for 2003's Pollution Prevention Week is It's Time. Here are some P2 tips for saving money and helping the environment at the same time. (For even more information, check out the web resources listed below.)

For more information on National Pollution Prevention Week see: Click here for more information about planning activities to recognize P2 Week.

P2 at Home

  • Mulch your garden to help retain soil moisture and control weeds. Use compost, wood chips or grass clippings.
  • Virtually all household cleaning jobs can be tackled safely, effectively and affordably with lemon juice, baking soda, salt, white vinegar, dish soap, citrus cleaner and borax.
  • Replace failing appliances with Energy Star labeled models. Depending on the appliance, they must be 10-50% more efficient than minimum federal standards.

P2 in Business

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient fluorescents. Initial cost is more but they last up to 10 times longer and use about ¼ the energy. Over its lifetime, a compact fluorescent bulb will save emissions of about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide and 5 pounds of sulfur dioxide. Recycle spent bulbs to prevent the mercury they contain from leaking into the air, soil and water.
  • Reduce use of office paper. Each ton of paper not used saves 7,000 gallons of water, 2.5 barrels of oil, 17 trees, and 3.3 cubic yards of space at the local landfill. Communicate electronically whenever possible and use both sides in the printer and copier. Buy paper containing at least 30% post consumer waste, chlorine-free when available.
  • Become an EcoStar Business. The MSU Extension Service Pollution Prevention Program can help you brainstorm pollution prevention strategies for your specific operation and you may receive an award for your efforts.
  • Computers are outdated in a few years and become electronic junk that may release pollutants into air and water and affect human health. When purchasing new equipment, ask for components that are: energy efficient, easily upgradeable, easily disassembled using common tools, made from recyclable materials, and minimize use of hazardous substances in manufacturing.

P2 on Vacation

  • Those little bottles of soap, shampoo and lotion offered at most motels are mostly packaging that ends up in the trash. Bring your own in refillable containers. If you're staying more than one night, ask the management not to change your sheets everyday. Thousands of gallons of water are used for unnecessary laundering.
  • Give your car a tune-up and make sure the tires are properly inflated before you leave. Gas mileage drops 1% for every pound below the recommended level. Better yet, when you buy a new car, make it the most fuel-efficient model available. Turn off your engine if you expect to idle more than 30 seconds. Patronize gas stations that have vapor recovery nozzles (they prevent two million gallons of gas from evaporating into the air each year). Park your car and walk or bike to see the sites.
  • Buy rolls of film with 36 shots rather than 12 or 24. Packaging waste is reduced and you'll save about 40%. Take photos with a regular camera rather than a disposable.

P2 at School

  • Pack a no-waste lunch – buy food items in bulk and put them in reusable containers; use a lunch box or fabric bag. Take only as much food as you’ll eat. Ask the cafeteria to use washable trays, plates and utensils.
  • Conduct a junk mail campaign – Help your school office collect unsolicited mail and contact the companies individually to get off their mailing lists or be removed from groups of mailing lists through the Direct Marketing Association ( or the Center for the New American Dream ( Turn it into a project to measure the difference. Put all unsolicited mail received in a week in a large can and estimate how much time it takes to handle each piece. Then take action to get the school’s name removed from mailing lists. Measure again in a month and determine how much waste has been reduced and staff time saved.
  • Teaching laboratories provide hands-on learning experience but can also be a source for small quantities of many different kinds of hazardous waste. Practice good housekeeping and inventory control and involve students, teachers, maintenance staff and administration in prevention.

For more information about preventing pollution, contact the Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Information Center (MSU Extension Service) at: 406/994-3451 or

Web Resources

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Light bulbs: or

Office paper:, and

Ecostar program:


On vacation:

School: and

Transportation Fuel Efficiency:

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