A consumer holding reusable shopping bags full of fresh produce

The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Waste reduction starts with the product manufacturer and ends with you, the consumer. The product manufacturer controls what materials are used and how the product is made and packaged. You decide what items to buy and how many items you need. Keeping this in mind, there are many things you can do to minimize waste before you make your final purchase.

  • Whenever possible, use less hazardous products. Instead of buying pesticides or household cleaners, is there an all-natural solution that would work with ingredients you already have? For more information, visit EPA's Safer Choice.
  • Avoid single-use cleaning or single function products. If the product does make its way to a landfill, one product that does three functions takes up less space than three products that do one function. An added bonus, they also take up less storage room in your home or office.
  • Look for products with the least amount of packaging. When manufacturers make their products with less packaging, they use less raw material. It is also less waste that has the potential to make its way to a landfill.
  • Buy products in packaging that can be recycled. For example, when you buy eggs, is the egg carton made of paper pulp, plastic or Styrofoam? Think not only about which material can be recycled, but also about the cost of the materials and the cost of the recycling and transportation.
  • Buy larger economy-sized non-perishable items instead of individually wrapped items. For items with an expiration date, buy the largest size you can use before it expires.
  • Buy only what you need. Buying in bulk can reduce packaging and save money, but only if you need that much product. Buying a gallon of paint, when you only need a quart, leaves a lot of product that may eventually become waste.
  • Avoid using the store provided shopping bags. If you only buy one or two items, carry them out in your hands. If you need a bag, bring your own cloth or plastic bags from home.

For more ideas about ways to reduce waste, visit Green Tips for Every Occasion.