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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Timeless wisdom when it comes to waste issues.



Keeping stuff from being thrown away doesn't start with recycling. Find ways to reduce your trash. Look for ways to reuse or repair items that still function. Explore recyclable items that can't go into your blue bin.

The absolutely best way to stop trash is to stop buying and using products that are not durable, reusable, or repairable. Reducing waste is easy if you follow some of the tips below. You'll also find lots of great info on our Reuse Tips Page.

If you know of other ways to reduce waste, please send your suggestions to us and we'll add them to the website.

Reduce Your Packaging Purchases

Avoiding products wrapped in plastic or excessively packaged in boxes and bags is a great way to generate less waste. You'll also save energy and natural resources.

  • Avoid packaging when possible. For example, use your own reusable bag or container.
  • Use products you already have for household chores. Avoid single-use cleaning products.
  • Buy large economy-sized products instead of individually wrapped items. Laundry soap, shampoo, dish-washing detergent, dry pet food, cat litter, and other non-perishable items are great examples. For food, buy the largest size you can use before spoiling.
  • Buy items in bulk, in concentrate, or in refillable packages. Bulk candy, for instance, will have much less wrapping than a bag of "Fun Size" candy bars. Mmm... reducing waste...

Reduce Toxicity

Whenever possible use nonhazardous or less hazardous materials at home and work. Instead of pesticides, for example, use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to control insects and other pests. Other safety tips include:

  • If you do use hazardous materials, use only what you need. Share leftovers with neighbors or donate them to businesses or charities that need them.
  • Read product labels and follow all directions carefully.

If you have hazardous materials, such as motor oil, be sure to dispose of them properly. Visit our hazardous waste section for more information.

Reuse Bags, Containers, and Other Items

  • Bring your reusable shopping bag to the grocery store and beyond. If you do have single-use bags, use them again!
  • Bring a reusable mug to the coffee shop.
  • Bring reusable take-out containers with you to restaurants (it saves them money!).
  • Pack lunches in a reusable bag with reusable food and drink containers.
  • Reuse containers and other materials for storage and crafts.
  • Reuse single-sided printed pages for scratch paper.
  • Find new homes for clothing and linens, or use them for rags, patchwork, and other projects.

Borrow, Rent, and Share!

Many of us have tools and other items that we don't use on a regular basis. Consider sharing them with your neighbors and friends. You can do so informally or through a service like neighborgoods.net. Renting is also a great option. Good candidates include:

  • Power tools, ladders, garden tillers
  • Boats and other outdoor equipment
  • Formal wear
  • Party decorations and supplies (tables etc.)
  • Audiovisual equipment

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