Reduce: Waste Prevention
Source reduction, often called waste prevention, means consuming and throwing away less. It includes purchasing durable, long-lasting goods, and seeking products and packaging that are as free of toxics as possible. It can be as complex as redesigning a product to use less raw material in production, have a longer life or be used again after its original use is completed. Because source reduction actually prevents the generation of waste in the first place, it is the most preferable method of waste management and goes a long way toward protecting the environment.
When shopping, think about:
- Is this an impulse purchase that you don't really need or won't really use?
- How long/often will you use it? Is it something that can be rented instead? Do you already have a broken one at home that can be repaired instead of purchasing a new one?
- Is the item made from good quality and long lasting material, or is it something cheap and flimsy that will probably break quickly?
- Does the item contain recycled materials? Try to select the item with the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content material.
- What will the end destination of this product be? Will it be tossed out quickly after only one use? Try a reusable option like a reusable razor instead of a disposable one.
- Can this product be recycled at the end of its life, or will it have to be thrown in the garbage? Choose a recyclable item such as a glass or aluminum juice container over a non-recyclable container such as a juice box.
- Is the item packaged in the least amount of material?
- When leaving the store with your purchase, do you really need to get a bag for only one or two items? If you are purchasing several items, bring your own durable bag. Also remember that brown paper bags can be recycled with newspaper in your curbside recycling bin.
Reusing items by repairing them, donating them to charity and community groups, or selling them also reduces waste. Using a product more than once, either for the same purpose or for a different purpose, is preferable to recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.
Ideas for reuse include:
- Using durable coffee mugs
- Using cloth napkins or towels
- Refilling bottles
- Donating old magazines or surplus equipment
- Reusing boxes
- Turning empty jars into containers for leftover food
- Purchasing refillable pens and pencils
- Participating in a paint collection and reuse program
Donating for Reuse