The best way to decrease the amount of waste you produce is to reduce how much you use. You can do this by becoming smarter about what you purchase and how you use items.
Reduce waste by purchasing reusable items including cloth shopping bags, food storage containers, reusable dishware, travel mugs, and using washable cloths and sponges for cleaning.
About 30 percent of our municipal trash is packaging. Look for products that have little or no packaging, or choose products that come in packaging that can be recycled.
Think before you buy
We can prevent waste—and spend our money more wisely—if we ask ourselves some questions before we buy a new product.
- Do I already own something that can serve the same purpose as this product?
- Do I need to purchase this product, or can I borrow or rent the item?
- Can this product be repaired or upgraded?
- What is the life expectancy of the product compared to other products (is it durable)?
- Are there multiple uses for this product or does it only serve one purpose?
- Do I need to buy it used, or can it be purchased used?
Rent or borrow
If you use items infrequently, rent or borrow them instead of buying them. Items that are commonly available for rent include: trailers, camping equipment, lawn care equipment, tables and chairs, ladders, power tools, and home cleaning equipment (e.g., carpet cleaners).
Many items we commonly throw away can be re-used in creative new ways. Fabric scraps, wallpaper, CDs, magazines, greeting cards and ribbons can be reused for gift wrapping or for craft projects.
Donate instead of throwing out
Instead of throwing out items and clothing that are still in good condition, donate them to charities, bring them to consignment shops, or post them on one of the many online exchange websites.
Buying recycled products
Many everyday products are made from recycled materials. Support the recycling market by using recycled products. Visit the Recycling Association of Minnesota and download the free Consumer Recycled Products Guide. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to learn how to identify recycled products.
For more ways to reduce and prevent waste, visit www.reduce.org.