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The Davis Recycling Program encourages the 5 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot and Rebuy.

Waste reduction and waste prevention means using less material to get a job done, creating less waste in the first place. It is the best of the four R’s—because preventing waste in the first place means you have less waste to worry about in the end.

Whenever we create waste, we’re throwing away valuable resources. Even though recycling is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough. We need to reduce the amount of waste we create. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much effort to reduce waste. Leave less behind for the future—reduce waste!


Prevent Waste: Shop Smart

  • Much of our household waste comes from the packaging of products. If we think before we buy, and buy only what we need, we can help conserve resources while we shop.
  • Choose durable, long-lasting goods and make them last longer by repairing them when necessary.
  • Choose products with minimal packaging.
  • When feasible, choose concentrated products to limit the amount of packaging.
  • Choose the largest-size food packages that you can use without spoilage.
  • Choose fresh produce without packaging whenever spoilage will not be a problem. Avoid using plastic bags for purchases such as a couple of cucumbers, bulbs of garlic or lemons – try reusable cloth or mesh bags instead.
  • Choose economy-size packages of household products you use regularly such as laundry soap, shampoo, baking soda, pet foods, kitty litter, etc.
  • Select products with the least wasteful packaging. Avoid buying goods with unnecessary packaging, such as "blister-packs" that wrap items in plastic seals with cardboard backing, or "double-packaging," such as a bottle inside a box.
    Avoid packaging made with mixed materials, such as paper laminated with plastic or foil.
  • Given two equivalent products, choose the one packaged more simply, with no packaging or with a single, reusable or recyclable material.
  • Select energy-efficient appliances and electronic equipment with good warranties and service contracts.

Stop junk mail

Direct mail – catalogs, flyers, credit card offers, memberships to clubs and organizations of all kinds – makes for a lot of paper and plastic waste in the typical household. For many consumers, these offerings are an interesting addition to the mail pile. However, there are those who consider much of the pile to be junk mail – unwanted and unwelcome. You can reduce the amount of junk mail you receive and get an online kit to stop junk mail at You can also reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive by contacting the Direct Marketing Association and ask to be placed in their "name removal file." Be sure to provide all the various spellings and address versions that you want removed from mail lists. If you do business by phone, mail or the Internet, ask to be placed on a list for in-house use only. Request that your name not be sold or traded to other marketers or organizations.

lunch-box-3579598_1920Pack a waste-free lunch

Create less waste when packing lunches by using a thermos or reusable water bottle for beverages, reusable containers for snacks, a washable bag or container for sandwiches and a cloth napkin. Pack it all in a reusable cloth bag or lunchbox.

You can also use sturdy washable utensils and dishes for picnics, outdoor parties and potlucks.

Use Rechargeable Batteries

Choose rechargeableAll batteries contain toxic materials. Single-use batteries are not only expensive, but their use increases the amount of toxic waste that must be disposed of. Instead of purchasing single-use batteries to power your electronics, try rechargeable ones instead!

With single-use batteries, it’s often hard to tell when the batteries are losing power. Recycling them before they completely run out of power seems wasteful. However, with rechargeable batteries, you can take the batteries out of a product at any time and recharge them. Rechargeable batteries are available in AAA, AA, C, D, and 9 volt sizes.

After rechargeable batteries will no longer accept a charge, they must be recycled at a location that accepts batteries. More information on rechargeable batteries.

Other ways you can prevent waste

  • Use a cloth napkin instead of a paper.
  • Use washable mugs at work or school instead of paper cups.
  • Use both sides of paper, and then recycle it so it can be used again.
  • Use a sponge or cloth towels instead of paper towels.
  • Use online or e-billing options rather than receiving bill statements in the mail.
  • Use rechargeable batteries or use an AC adaptor whenever possible. Keep in mind that after rechargeable batteries will no longer accept a charge, they may not be put in the garbage, but must be recycled separately.
  • Before throwing a product away, check into repair and warranty options. This is often less expensive and more energy efficient than buying a new replacement.
  • When possible, mend clothes and repair worn shoes, boots, handbags and briefcases. Shoe repair is often offered at stores where shoes are sold.