Waste Minimization Starts with Precycling
You can refer to the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” slogan thousands of times and still not get at the heart of the issue. As one way to “reduce” your rubbish, precycling is a way to reduce waste at the source. It’s the ultimate way to limit your use of resources, save energy, and cut the amount of garbage you produce. Plus, it’ll likely save you a bundle of money! These are our best precycling tips to get you started:
- Don’t buy: Far from just participating in Buy Nothing Day once a year, by unspending, unbuying, and unconsuming, you’re limiting how much stuff you accumulate, and shrinking your overall environmental footprint in the process. After all, the most environmentally friendly purchase is the one you never make!
- Get into reusables: By choosing reusable products rather than those you’ll throw away after one use, you’ll be preventing the use of disposable products. That means using: reusable shopping bags, stainless steel water bottles, reusable coffee mugs, cloth napkins, reusable cleaning supplies (instead of paper towels and disposable mop heads), glass and stainless steel food containers, reusable lunch bags that last for more than one use.
- Opt for bulk, concentrated products: Reducing the quantities of packaging used to wrap up your various purchases is another way to prevent waste before it is consumed. Concentrated foods and cleaning products pack more punch for their volume and require less total packaging. Likewise with bulk products. Just be sure that you don’t confuse genuinely bulk products with hundreds of individual packages cello-wrapped together.
- Choose recycled products: Looking for items made with recycled materials means that more virgin resources are saved, which is another way to precycle. Check labels, and look for those products that consist of recycled plastics, paper, metal, and so on.
- Less printing: In many cases, that memo or email or receipt doesn’t need to be printed - an electronic copy will suffice. So stop yourself from clicking the “print” button to prevent paper waste from the start!
- Prevent junk mail: The epidemic of unwanted mail has impacted almost every developed country with companies and nonprofits soliciting individuals on a variety of issues without end. You can stop the waste by removing yourself from mailing lists so that the junk mail is not sent to your home or office in the first place. Learn more with our Stop Junk Mail article.
- Avoid Styrofoam: Because this type of packaging is difficult to recycle (facilities are few and far between) and toxic from the get-go, it’s best to avoid it whenever possible. So whether buying mushrooms or shipping a package, choose alternate materials.
- Choose quality: Initial cost isn’t everything. When you choose the cheaply made product, you’re setting yourself up being saddled with waste when it breaks prematurely. Instead, pay a little more (although this isn’t always required) to buy the product that will last longer. In the end, it’ll save you money and reduce your waste tremendously.
- Go rechargeable: Sure, investing in rechargeable batteries and a charger will cost you more up front, but in the end, it could save you hundreds of dollars every single year. And because batteries are made with heavy metals (and often not recycled), you’ll be preventing that waste in the process.
- Choose the least-packaged option: When comparing items, choose the one with the least amount of packaging. A bottle of shampoo sold in a cardboard box results in unnecessary waste - the one without the box is preferable.