Waste reduction, also known as waste prevention, means using less material to get a job done. Waste reduction helps create 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. Leave less behind for the future—reduce waste!
Shop Smart —a waste reduction shopping guide.
Waste Reduction Tips
- Purchase durable, long-lasting goods and make them last longer by repairing them when necessary.
- Reuse products and packaging.
- Reduce the amount of packaging that is discarded by reusing packing materials. Bring Styrofoam packing peanuts and bubble wrap to a shipping store like The UPS Store for reuse.
- Use products with minimal packaging.
- Use a cloth napkin instead of a paper.
- Use washable mugs at work or school instead of paper cups.
- Buy recycled paper made with post-consumer content.
- Use both sides of paper, and then recycle it so it can be used again.
- Use reusable cloth towels instead of paper towels.
- Start or join an environmental club at school. Get informed, and think of things you can do to make a difference.
- Use a thermos for beverages, reusable containers for snacks, a washable bag or plastic container for sandwiches and a cloth napkin. Pack it all in a reusable cloth bag or lunchbox.
- Use sturdy washable utensils and dishes for picnics, outdoor parties and potlucks.
- Reach for a sponge or dishcloth instead of a paper towel to clean up.
- Use direct withdrawal for paying bills. A statement verifying the charges is sent for review before the money is withdrawn from your account.
- 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.
- 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 get reduce the amount of junk mail you receive and get an online kit to stop junk mail at StopJunkMail.org.
- 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.
- Buy concentrates, returnables, economy-sized containers or products in bulk
- Buy the largest-size food packages that you can use without spoilage.
- Buy 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.
- Buy 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.
- 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.