Waste reduction

Waste reduction begins with you

If not you, then who?

It’s no wonder “Reduce” is the first of the 3Rs. Waste reduction is the cheapest and most simple way to prevent garbage from piling up in landfills. Waste reduction also saves money and conserves the resources and raw materials that go into making new items.

Waste reduction means buying only what you need and making smarter choices about what you buy, such as environmentally friendly products, items that use recyclable materials, are produced locally, are packaged responsibly and can be reused or recycled.

Making just a few personal changes can help the environment.

Everyday waste reduction tips

  • Carry reusable cloth bags when shopping
  • Use a travel mug for beverages on the go
  • Home compost your garden and kitchen waste
  • Avoid purchasing disposable products
  • Donate clothing, furniture and other items that can be used by someone else
  • Take a ‘litterless’ lunch
  • Use glass or plastic containers for food leftovers
  • Avoid products with excess packaging and buy in bulk

Please remember: each of us has tremendous personal power to reduce the amount of waste generated. It’s time to do our part and make a difference. If not you, then who?

Looking for more waste reduction tips?

Waste reduction at home

  • Before you replace something old with something new, attempt to have it repaired. This could save you some money as well as reduce waste.
  • Use a refillable mug for coffee or other beverages on the go.
  • Purchase items in bulk whenever possible… bring your own containers to the bulk store if possible.
  • Buy products that will last; make durability, not price, your primary purchasing decision-making factor.
  • Instead of buying new toys or tools, try sharing with friends.
  • Re-upholster worn out furniture instead of buying new – often the frame will far outlast the upholstery.
  • Buy products made from recycled materials whenever possible – sometimes these products cost less, making the choice even easier.
  • When faced with two similar products of different brands, choose the product with the least amount of packaging.
  • Avoid purchasing disposable products – re-usable products are better for the environment, and will save you money in the long run.
  • Avoid buying single serving or over-packaged foods – there is always an alternative with less packaging (and likely more nutritious).
  • Whenever possible choose products that are sold in re-fillable or recyclable containers.
  • Consider purchasing used goods before purchasing new; this is a great re-use and cost-saving option for the consumer.
  • Use your imagination! Thinking of new ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce can be fun and creative.
  • Try giving an item a “new life” by using it in an innovative way such as peanut butter jars for storing nuts and bolts or comic strips or colourful paper for gift wrap.
  • If you have an item that you no longer need but is still in usable condition, consider using the take it back directory.

Waste reduction at school

  • Get staff and students involved in waste reduction efforts
  • Encourage staff and children to bring “litterless” lunches in a re-usable bag or container
  • Be creative and participate in waste reduction education activities and projects and strongly encourage volunteerism to make programs successful
  • Use overheads, markerboards or blackboards instead of paper flipcharts
  • Encourage double-sided paper use
  • Post announcements on central message boards
  • Form a waste exchange to enable students and staff to find new homes for unwanted books, clothing, jewellery, sports equipment and other items
  • Consider acquiring a vermicomposter to eliminate small quantities of food waste in eating or food preparation areas – depending on the level of interest and commitment to the proper care and maintenance of a vermicomposter, this option may or may not be ideal for each situation
  • Invite waste industry representatives to be a guest speaker
  • Tour waste processing facilities to increase understanding about what happens to waste after it has been hauled away

Waste reduction at work

  • Use both sides of paper and re-use envelopes and scrap paper
  • Familiarize staff with the proper operation of office equipment to eliminate waste through misuse
  • Purchase supplies in bulk quantities if appropriate to reduce packaging waste
  • Centrally post or e-mail memos and documents as opposed to providing individual copies
  • Institute an office policy to purchase products containing recycled content whenever there is an option
  • Educate staff and reinforce on an ongoing basis about company waste reduction policies and programs
  • Consider acquiring a vermicomposter to eliminate small quantities of food waste in eating or food preparation areas – depending on the level of interest and commitment to the proper care and maintenance of a vermicomposter, this option may or may not be ideal for each situation
  • Try to purchase products in re-usable or recyclable containers
  • Set up a recycling program
  • Ensure staff are familiar with company waste reduction programs and policies

Last Updated: September 13, 2013. Broken links or incorrect information? Let us know!