Tips to Reduce the amount of waste you create
You can reduce the amount of waste you create by choosing what waste and rubbish you throw away. This can be easy just by following these simple guidelines:
What To Buy and How To Use It
- Waste reduction starts at the supermarket. By making slight alterations to your shopping list you can significantly reduce the amount of waste created in and around the home.
- Buy only what you need Reduce unnecessary waste by avoiding those pointless purchases. Items that rarely get used can be borrowed or shared with others.
- Buy products that can be reused Buy bottles instead of cans and rechargeable batteries. Items such as this create very little waste, as they don’t have to be thrown away after they have been used just once.
- Buy all-purpose household cleaner Instead of buying many different ones for each cleaning role.
- Buy products with little packaging So that less packaging ends up in your rubbish bin. For those items you use regularly, buy them in bulk instead of in smaller amounts. This will save you money as well as reduce waste.
- Sell or give away unwanted itemsReduce waste by donating unwanted items to family, friends or neighbours. You could even sell your possessions in a car-boot sale and earn some extra cash.
- Reduce paper waste by cancelling unwanted mailYou can unsubscribe to many national mailing lists by contacting the Direct Marketing Association.
Reducing Hazardous Waste
- Many hazardous products cannot be recycled as they contain harmful chemicals. However, there are ways of reducing waste by dealing with hazardous products in the correct manor.
- Buy non-toxic products whenever possible Many toxic products such as motor oil and pesticides cannot be reused.
- Recycle motor products such as break fluid, oils and tyres by taking them to your local petrol station. By recycling these products instead of throwing them away, you are reducing hazardous waste.
- Use all of the toxic product, such as furniture polish, so there is no hazardous material left in the container when it is discarded.
- Find safer alternatives to hazardous household products. You can even make your own household cleaners using products such as baking soda and vinegar. Olive oil with lemon juice is a good alternative to furniture polish and using scented candles are a good alternative to air fresheners.
Think Before You Throw
- Many of the items that you would normally consider for rubbish collection could be used for other purposes. So instead of throwing items away, reduce waste by using them for other roles.
- Paper and Envelopes Can be used as scrap paper for making notes.
- Cardboard, Newspaper and Bubble Wrap Can be used as packing materials. Packaging products, such as foil and egg cartons, can be used for art projects in schools and nurseries.
- Jars and Pots Can be used as small containers to store odds and ends.
- Plastic and Paper Bags Can be reused in the shops, used as bin bags around the house or as wrapping paper.
- Used wood Can be used in woodcrafts for making small garden objects such as bird tables. Alternatively it could be used as firewood.
Waste Reduction Strategies
Before you start your waste reduction program, visit SustainableBusiness.com for information on affecting environmental change in your company and more.
- These tips apply to most business types, especially offices and retail.
- Establish purchasing guidelines to encourage waste prevention (durable, concentrated, reusable, high quality).
- Centralize purchasing to eliminate unnecessary purchases and ensure that waste reduction purchasing policies are followed.
- Track material usage to optimize ordering.
- Consider length of warranty and availability of repair services when purchasing equipment. (Contract for maintenance to extend the life of products).
- Substitute less toxic materials for toxic materials (e.g., vegetable-based inks, water-based glue, markers and paints).
- Use plastic trash can liners made of recycled HDPE instead of ones made with LDPE or LLDPE. They contain less raw materials, work equally well for most uses, and generally cost less.
- Order merchandise with minimal packaging or layers of packaging. Contact manufacturers directly and express purchase preferences. Remember to vote with your dollars by buying products with minimal packaging or packaging containing recycled content.
- Avoid bright or deep toned paper.
“Astrobrights” and other brightly colored papers can cause problems at paper recycling mills. Pastel colors (light green, light blue, canary yellow, light pink) are less of a problem and stand out just as well. And, they cost less!
- Request that deliveries be shipped in returnable containers.
- Order supplies by voice mail or electronic mail.
- Use optical scanners, which give more details about inventory, allowing more precise ordering.
- Start your own Recycled-Content Purchasing Program.
- Eliminate unneeded packaging or layers of packaging.
- Use lightweight packaging to conserve materials.
- Use reusable boxes and mailbags for shipping to branch offices, shops, and warehouses.
- Ship products to your customers in the boxes that you receive from your suppliers. Set up a place to store these reusable boxes. Ask customers to return boxes for reuse. You will save by not having to buy as many new boxes.
- Encourage suppliers to use reusable totes or boxes, rather than sending you disposable boxes that you have to break down and recycle.
- Print a message on products to encourage consumers to recycle the packaging.
- Reuse packing materials (e.g., foam peanuts, bubble-wrap and cardboard boxes) or find someone who can.
- Use materials already on hand for loose-fill packaging material, rather than buying new. One popular, low-cost option is shredded office paper.
- Set up a system for returning cardboard boxes and foam peanuts to distributors for reuse.
- Return, reuse and repair wooden pallets and spools and use a clamp system instead of new pallets for outgoing shipments.
- Purchase supplies with recycled content.
- Make double-sided copies whenever possible. Go to Cutting Paper Use.
- Reuse envelopes and use two-way envelopes.
- Circulate memos, periodicals and reports, rather than distributing individual copies.
- Use voice or electronic mail, shared computer drives, or post memos on a central bulletin board.
- Make scratch pads from used paper.
- Use outdated letterhead for in-house memos.
- Eliminate unnecessary forms. Double-side forms or redesign them to fit on a half sheet.
- Use narrow-ruled notebooks.
- Save documents on floppy disks instead of printing hard copies.
- Use central files for hard copies.
- Print more words on each page (e.g., smaller font, narrow margins).
- “Duplex” your laser printer so that it automatically prints documents on both sides of the page. Installing the duplex option typically costs around $300, but makes good sense in larger offices that use and/or mail a lot of paper.
- Proof documents on screen when possible and teach employees to use print preview and spell check before printing.
- Fill the printer with paper already used on one side and print drafts on the other side. (Set this as the default print and instruct employees to use the manual feed to use clean paper.
- Use same draft of report for corrections by several people.
- Accept final in-house documents with hand corrections.
- Use executive summaries when possible and provide the entire document only upon request.
- Read about the importance of reducing paper waste in the BBC News article “Half Paper Waste Could Be Saved”.
- Set up an area/swap program for employees to exchange used items.
- Get rid of unwanted items, but remember another business might be able to use them! Advertise surplus and reusable waste items through a commercial waste exchange.
- Rent instead of buying equipment that is used only occasionally.
- Use quality used or remanufactured office equipment.
- Invest in equipment that facilitates waste prevention such as:
- high quality, durable, repairable equipment;
- copiers and printers that make two-sided copies;
- modem cards;
- Institute maintenance practices that prolong the life of copiers, computers, and other equipment.
- Reclaim reusable parts from old equipment.
- Use refilled or rebuilt fax and printer cartridges and other office supplies like pens, etc.
- Sell or give old furniture and equipment to employees or donate it to a local charity.
- Use retreaded tires on company vehicles. Rotate tires on a regular basis to prolong tire life. Keep tires properly inflated, this saves energy and improves wear.
- Install reusable heating, ventilation and air conditioning filters.
- Replace incandescent with fluorescent lights.
- Purchase products that do not need batteries or do use solar energy such as manual pencil sharpeners, staplers and solar calculators.
- Use rechargeable batteries where practical.
- Use hand blowers or cloth towel dispensers in bathrooms, or purchase recycled and unbleached paper towel rolls.
- Get off unwanted mailing lists! Use the National Waste Prevention Coalition’s website to get your name off national mailing lists and save your business money.
- Use recycled-content items related to intra and inter-office communications: cork boards, paper, pencils, pens, etc.
- Confused about what recycled-content and other recycling lingo means? Go to “The Language of Recycling” web site.
- Use fax “stickies” instead of full page cover sheets, or even better write or stamp the first page of the fax to convey transmission information.
- Invest in a program that allows faxing directly from your computer or send documents by email instead of printing a copy to fax.
- Use two way or reusable envelopes when appropriate.
- Eliminate unnecessary elements such as envelopes by designing your mailing so the address can be printed right on the document you are sending.
- Reuse old envelopes for internal mailings.
- Keep mailing lists current to avoid duplication or mailing to invalid addresses.
- Don’t pre-stuff packets for meetings or conferences. Let participants take the handouts they think they will use.
- Use email and voice mail for interoffice messages.
- Route magazines and other subscriptions rather than ordering copies for individual employees.
- Donate old magazines or journals to hospitals, clinics, or libraries.
- Keep mailing lists current/one copy per address.
- Call or mail postcards directly to senders asking that your name be removed from mailing lists.
“Outside” your Business
- Go to Landscaping Tips.
- See also: Oregon Compost Facilities
Food and Personal Services
- Purchase less toxic cleaners. See Green Seal’s “Choose Green report.”
- Dispense cleaning solutions in refillable containers like pump spray bottles. Use products in non-aerosol containers where possible.
- Use durable towels, tablecloths, napkins, dishes, flatware, cups and glasses.
- Encourage employees to bring their own mugs and utensils. Ask food vendor to offer discounts on beverages served in a customer’s own mug.
- Buy company mugs; stop providing disposable cups.
- Buy reusable coffee filters or unbleached disposable filters.
- Reuse trash can liners or eliminate where possible and discontinue use in cans with dry trash only.
- Consider using cloth roll towels, hot air dryers, large paper rolls in restrooms, or buy lighter/smaller-sized paper towels.
- Teach your customers about the importance of waste prevention. Effective tools for getting the message across include: promotional campaigns; brochures and newsletters (remember to use recycled paper); banners; newspaper ads; product displays and store signs.
- Encourage customers to bring their own bag(s) and compliment them when they do.
- Offer customers a rebate when they reuse grocery bags, containers, mugs and cups.
- Offer customers waste prevention choices such as:
- items in bulk or concentrate;
- items in refillable bottles;
- solar-powered items, such as calculators, flashlights; and
- durable and repairable merchandise.
- If you serve beverages in cans or bottles, place a recycling bin in the dining area for your customers’ empty beverage containers.
- Encourage customers to return reusable items (e.g., metal hangers to dry cleaners, styrofoam peanuts, plastic wrap, bags, etc.).