What's even better than recycling? Reducing the waste generated. Don't just recycle but also remember to reduce and reuse whenever possible. Waste reduction and source reduction benefit the environment through reduced energy consumption and pollution, conservation of natural resources, and extension of valuable landfill space. They can also have economic benefits by reducing costs associated with transportation, disposal, or recycling of waste.
What can you do? Avoiding using materials that aren't recyclable, eliminating excessive purchasing, and reuse items to reduce the amount of waste you generate.
Examples of waste reduction practices include using reusable containers like cups and grocery bags, opting out of unwanted mail, donating no longer wanted items to organizations such as those in the Reduce Reuse Recycle Directory, and purchasing previously owned items from yard sales, thrift shops, and from the Reuse Barn Project.
Source reduction strategies include:
- Purchasing only those items you need
- Renting or leasing products or equipment
- Purchasing rebuilt, remanufactured, or refurbished products
- Purchasing high quality, long lasting products
- Purchasing products containing nonhazardous materials
- Purchasing products that are reusable, refillable, or returnable
- Purchasing products in bulk and/or concentrates
- Purchasing products with less packaging
- Reusing packaging, bows, tissue paper, and gift boxes to reuse
- Sharing or reusing resources
- Repairing older items instead of purchasing new ones
- Using cloth towels, napkins, and rags instead of disposable paper products
- Using rechargeable batteries whenever possible
- Donating back issues of magazines to schools and libraries
- Grasscycle (Leaving grass trimmings on your lawn to add nutrients back into the soil)
- Opt out of unsolicited promotional mail, telephone directories, or junk mail
- Backyard composting
- E-statements, electronic files, e-books/magazines, e-newspapers