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Residential Waste Prevention and Reuse

In order to prevent waste, ask yourself the following questions when purchasing a product:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Can I find it used in a second-hand store or from the classifieds?
  • Is there a more durable alternative?
  • How quickly will I be replacing this? Why?
  • Can I make do with what I have? (i.e., repair instead of replace it, then give it to someone else who can still use it, then recycle it whenever possible)
  • Would it be more cost effective to rent this rather than purchase? 

Tips on preventing waste at home or in your office:

  • Buy products in bulk, this saves you money and reduces packaging/unit.
  • Shop at stores that offer products in "loose" form and bring your own durable containers to the store for filling (e.g., flour, tea, coffee, pasta, beans, spices, nuts, etc.).
  • Borrow books from the library rather than purchasing them.
  • Use durable products rather than disposable (e.g., refillable pens, lighters, & razors).
  • Carry your lunch to work in a reusable bag and bring your own lunch set of a plate, bowl, silverware and cup to the office to avoid using disposable products.
  • Double-side your copies and save unwanted printouts for scratch paper at your desk. At home, make scrap paper pads for phone messages and shopping lists, etc.
  • Pack your lunch in a reusable container rather than sandwich bags or foil.
  • Carry your own mug to the coffee shop and ask the employee to make your drink in it.
  • Refuse bags whenever you are making small purchases at the store and carry your own durable shopping bag whenever possible. (Many stores offer rebates to customers who bring their own bags).
  • Choose gifts carefully. Remember, the sentiment will go a long way! Consider tickets, memberships, lessons, charitable donations in someone's name, planting a tree in someone's name, etc.
  • Avoid impulse buying—remember, do you really need it?
  • Reduce unwanted mail, take your name off mailing list for items you no longer read.
  • Donate reusable items to charity or nonprofit organization.
  • Reduce your waste disposed by composting yard debris and food scraps.


Why do it?

Implementing the suggested waste prevention tips can accomplish the following: 

  • It can save you some bucks!
  • By not creating waste, you reduce your garbage disposal costs—composting saves even more!
  • Buying in bulk saves you money per unit—remember, about ten cents on every dollar spent is for packaging costs.
  • Buying durable products will save you more over the long term and reusable containers reduce your costs on plastic and foil for food storage.
  • Buying only what you need and renting or borrowing everything else is money saved and less stuff you have to get rid of in the future!
  • Fewer natural resources are consumed using waste prevention strategies.
  • The energy saved by preventing waste reduces the amount of harmful gases in the air that may contribute to global warming.

In turn, this means less air and water pollution for future generations. Wow! That's a lot of savings.