Reduce is the first and most important “R” in the Waste Management Hierarchy.
Reducing waste requires us to rethink our daily habits to avoid creating waste in the first place. It’s also about making informed decisions when we purchase products or services. In it’s simplest form, “reduce” means using less stuff. The less waste we bring into our lives, the less waste we have to manage.
SMART AND SUSTAINABLE SHOPPING
- Make a list before going to the store to help you avoid impulse buys.
- Give gifts of experience such as movie tickets or a restaurant gift certificate.
- Shop at local markets and stores where products are made closer to home and often have less packaging.
- Think about renting or borrowing items that you don’t often need, such as tools.
- Refuse plastic bags and choose products with less packaging.
- Purchase products in bulk, rather than single-serve containers. Divide snacks for lunches into reusable containers when you get home.
- Avoid purchasing disposable items such as plastic cutlery, paper plates and razors.
- Invest in a set of rechargeable batteries.
- Purchase LED bulbs, which last for years.
- Choose clothing made from natural fibres like wool or cotton that tend to last longer than synthetic fabrics like acrylic and nylon.
- Try to avoid purchasing cheap novelty items and toys that quickly end up in the landfill.
REPAIR AND REFRESH
- Repair appliances before tossing them aside for a newer model.
- Give old wooden furniture a new life by sanding and re-staining.
- Consider re-upholstering an old couch or chair; do it yourself or bring it to a furniture repair shop.
- Give an outdated lamp a fresh look with a new shade.
- Update cabinets, wardrobes and dressers with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware.
- Give dated throw pillows an update with a new cover.
- Extend the life of a worn duvet or comforter with a new duvet cover.
BE PROUD TO GO PAPERLESS
- Choose paperless billing.
- Subscribe to newspapers and magazines online.
- Go green with your mail with these tips from Canada Post.
- Contact the sender when you receive mail addressed to a previous occupant of your home or apartment.
KEEP WASTE REDUCTION ON THE MENU
- Make note of what you already have before you go to the grocery store.
- Plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list. This will avoid food waste and save you money.
- Don’t over stock your fridge and keep it organized. Food that gets lost in the back tends to get forgotten and spoil.
- Plan your next meal around your leftovers and end-of-the-week meals around what’s left in the fridge.
- Learn more about Food Waste.
AVOID HAZARDS IN THE HOME AND GARDEN
- Make your own cleaning supplies from everyday household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and salt.
- Use natural alternatives to chemical lawn and garden care products.
- Avoid one-time-use cleaning supplies in favour of reusable and washable options.
- Learn more about Household Hazardous Waste.
GROW A GREEN THUMB AND GARDEN
- Grow a kitchen herb garden to have fresh herbs ready when needed, rather than buying them packaged where they’ll be quick to spoil.
- In the summer, try growing some veggies you consume regularly. Planting a few rows of leaf lettuce (in a container or in the ground) will keep you in salads all summer long and cut down on a lot of packaging.
- Try re-sprouting vegetables. Leeks, green onions, romaine lettuce and celery will all re-sprout when the base (the part you would normally discard) is placed in water.
- Pick wild berries like blueberries and raspberries when they’re in season for fresher fruit without all the packaging.
- Learn more about Food Waste.