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INFORM was founded in 1973 by environmental research specialist Joanna Underwood and two colleagues. Seriously concerned about air pollution , the three scientists decided to establish an organization that would identify practical ways to protect the environment and public health. Since then, their concerns have widened to include hazardous waste , solid waste management , water pollution , and land, energy, and water conservation . The group's primary purpose is "to examine business practices which harm our air, water, and land resources" and pinpoint "specific ways in which practices can be improved."

INFORM's research is recognized throughout the United States as instrumental in shaping environmental policies and programs. Legislators, conservation groups and business leaders use INFORM's authority as an acknowledged basis for research and conferences. Source reduction has become one of INFORM's most important projects. A decrease in the amount and/or toxicity of waste entering the waste stream , source reduction includes any activity by an individual, business, or government that lessens the amount of solid wasteor garbagethat would otherwise have to be recycled or incinerated. Source reduction does not include recycling , municipal solid waste composting , household hazardous waste collection, or beverage container deposit and return systems.

The first priority in source reduction strategies is elimination; the second, reuse . Public education is a crucial part of INFORM's program. To this end INFORM has published Making Less Garbage: A Planning Guide for Communities. This book details ways to achieve source reduction including buying reusable, as opposed to disposable, items; buying in bulk; and maintaining and repairing products to extend their lives.

INFORM's outreach program goes well beyond its source reduction project. The staff of over 25 full-time scientists and researchers and 12 volunteers and interns makes presentations at national and international conferences and local workshops. INFORM representatives have also given briefings and testimony at Congressional hearings and produced television and radio advertisements to increase public awareness on environmental issues. The organization also publishes a quarterly newsletter, INFORM Reports.

[Cathy M. Falk ]



INFORM, Inc., 120 Wall Street, New York, NY USA 10005 (212) 361-2400, Fax: (212) 361-2412, Email: [email protected], <>

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