Reduce and Reuse Basics
The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy: Raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated and then transported to wherever it will be sold.
As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money.
Benefits of Reducing and Reusing
- Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials.
- Saves energy.
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations.
- Saves money.
- Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators.
- Allows products to be used to their fullest extent.
Take Action to Reduce your Impact on the Planet
- Help create a market for recycled paper – buy recycled paper products made with post-consumer waste.
- Recycle paper to save trees from being cut down – this process reduces the amount of energy needed to produce more paper by about half and reduces air pollution emissions.
- Use reusable dishware and utensils rather than paper plates, cups or napkins. Choose “tree-free” paper products, such as those made from hemp.
- Clean out juice bottles and use them for water.
- Donate extras to people you know or to charity instead of throwing them away.
- Purchase refillable pens and pencils.
- Repairing, donating to a charity or selling items also reduces waste.
- Reuse boxes.
- Reusing products, when possible, is even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.
- Use cloth napkins or towels.
- Use durable coffee mugs.
- Use empty jars to hold leftover food.
- When shopping, purchase items that can be reused.
- Buy and use only what you need.
- Buy permanent items instead of disposables.
- Buy products that use less toxic chemicals.
- Buy products with less packaging.
- Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts and consider giving a battery charger. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away, and can save money in the long run.
- Consider the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly, creating waste and costing you money.
- Give gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates.
- Send recycled-content greeting cards to reduce the amount of virgin paper used during the holidays. You can also send electronic greeting cards to reduce paper waste.
- Use your own camera instead of a disposable one to reduce waste while capturing memories. Consider buying a digital camera so that you do not have to use film and only print the pictures you want to keep.
- Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper or funny papers.
Holiday Waste: Food for Thought
- About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season.
- Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons totals up to an additional 1 million tons a week in our landfills.
- Approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year.
- From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent.
- In the United States, annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons.
- The amount of cards sold during the holiday season would fill a football field 10 stories high and requires the harvesting of nearly 300,000 trees.