By reducing what we buy and use, and choosing reusable items over disposable, we can prevent waste from happening in the first place.
Reducing the amount of items that we buy is the number one way to prevent waste.
What you choose to buy directly influences the waste you produce. Many products designed for our convenience are disposed after a single use, but you can avoid much of that waste with a bit of preparation.
Even recyclable and compostable single-use items (like coffee cups and straws) are wasteful in comparison to reusable versions because washing and reusing things takes a lot less energy than re-manufacturing or composting and growing new materials.
- Use rechargeable AA and AAA batteries (many can be reused 1000+ times, and have a significantly lower environmental impact than single-use batteries)
- Ask for your drink without a straw, or bring your own
- Bring your reusable bag whenever you shop, not just at the grocery store
- Refill ink cartridges instead of buying new
- Buy food in bulk and repack into single servings using reusable containers (e.g. yogurt, crackers)
- Replace paper towels with cloth for some or all of your home uses
It's easy to accumulate things you don't even want, because they are given or mailed to you.
Opt out of phone book delivery to reduce wasted paper. (Each year the phone book industry uses up an estimated 4.68 million trees worth of wood fiber, or14 football fields’ worth of forest per day.)
- Visit yellowpagesoptout.com
- Enter your zip code and create an account
- After completing registration, click "opt out of or order directories"
- Choose "opt out of all" option, then "save changes" and hit CONFIRM
- Opt out of junk mail
- Say no to SWAG: before you take free goodies at events, think about whether you'll use the item and whether it's a quality that you'll like
When we are thoughtful about our choices at the holidays and special events, we can celebrate without producing a lot of waste.
- Plan weddings and other big celebrations to minimize waste
- Make Halloween green with reusable treats and secondhand costumes (come to our annual Costume Swap!)
- Make the right amount of food for Thanksgiving and other big meals using the "Guest-imator" tool
- Hosting a Superbowl party? See our tips to go green on game day
- Choose alternative gifts that aren't "stuff"
- Use an alternative gift registry like SoKind for weddings and baby showers
- Create a zero waste Easter basket for your kids
- Give presents in reusable gift bags or furoshiki wrappings instead of wrapping paper and plastic ribbons
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The average American family throws out about a quarter of the food they buy – worth about $1000 a year! Food waste contributes to climate change when it's thrown away. Composting uneaten food is better, but still wastes the water and energy that went into growing and shipping it, so preventing food waste is one of the best things you can do to reduce your environmental impact.