Reducing Consumption – A Step on the Path to Zero Waste

When you avoid making garbage in the first place, you don’t have to worry about disposing of waste or recycling it later. Reducing the amount of waste that is created is the most effective component of the waste hierarchy system. Sustainable consumption practices are not just good for the environment and the community at large, these positive habits can save your family hard earned cash every year!

How it Works

Reducing consumption works when consumer habits change and buying choices focus on the waste impact as much as the cost of the product.

Just Say No to New Goods

Become a conscious consumer. Before buying anything, ask yourself the few questions below. Driving change in buying habits is the key to reducing consumption.

  • Is this purchase something I need?
  • Do I already own something that will serve the same purpose?
  • Can I borrow one instead of buying new?
  • Can I make something that will serve the same purpose?
  • Can I buy a used one?
  • Would someone be willing to split the cost and share this with me?
  • Can I buy one that serves more than one purpose?
  • Can I compost or recycle it when I’m done with it?
  • Are there other options that use less packaging?

Be a Bulk Buyer

Particularly with food products, buying in bulk and using your own containers reduces the need for packaging the amount you’re purchasing, as well as reducing the packaging needed to get the item to the store. The Good Earth in Fairfax has many options for reusable containers, and bulk food options for everything from popcorn to maple syrup to soap!

Repair to Re-use

For larger household items, resist the urge to buy new when an item goes on the fritz.

Track Grocery Spending and Usage

Did you know 1/3 of food goes to waste? (Some say half!) The first thing you can do is reduce your food waste. Keep better track of grocery shopping. Keep a journal of the food you buy – and what ends up in the compost pile and never eaten.

Switch from Paper to Cloth

Shopping bags are the first step – go big, and switch out using paper towels with cloth rags and napkins. Reusable bags are law as of September 2014!

Other Resources for Reducing Consumption

My Plastic-free Life

The Story of Stuff

Zero Waste Marin – Take a Zero Waste Challenge!