To reduce means to use less of something. The most effective way to reduce waste is to avoid generating it in the first place.
Reducing waste is easy and saves you money and time. To reduce waste:
Donate unwanted items and buy used. Clothing, children’s equipment, electronics, appliances, building materials, and more can all be donated to specialized reuse centers and consignment. Used items can be purchased from these same outlets. Often, used items are less expensive and serve the same function as buying new.
Buy products that use less packaging. Less packaging means fewer raw materials went into the manufacturing of the product. This reduces waste and often lowers costs. These extra savings can be passed along to the consumer. For instance buying in bulk can reduce packaging and save money.
Buy and use reusable items - not disposables. Bring your own reusable bags wherever you shop. Commit to stop using paper plates, plastic cutlery, plastic cups, and even paper towels - all these items have reusable alternatives.
Borrow, rent and share items that are used infrequently, like books, party decorations, tools and occasional furniture.
Maintain and repair goods like electronics, clothing, appliances, and tires, so that they won't have to be thrown out and replaced as frequently.
Food waste is 30-40% of the waste stream. In 2013, 37 million tons of food was discarded by Americans. Roughly 95% of this wasted food was sent to landfills or incinerators.
Decomposing food waste in landfills is a significant source of methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Preventing food waste reduces methane emissions while conserving energy and resources.
The Environmental Protection Agency provides the following tools to help you get smart and prevent food waste:
Responsible consumers take accountability for the environmental consequences of their lifestyles. In order to prevent waste they choose to purchase goods with as few environmental costs as possible. They also think hard about what they need before making purchases at all. Responsible consumers:
Choose items that are made with recyclable content
Purchase services and activities for gifts instead of material goods
Buy local products that have lower transportation costs and lesser carbon footprints
Reuse and re-purpose as much as possible
Also, remember that consumption doesn’t begin at the register. Material goods that appear free to us come at a cost to the environment. To reduce your impact:
Use re-usable bags when shopping; Newton passed a ban on plastic bags in 2015
Choose reusable utensils over plastic ones
Bring your own to go container to pack leftovers from restaurants
Carry a handkerchief to replace paper napkins and tissues
In 2002, the City embarked upon a Source Reduction Program, funded largely by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Source reduction, aims to reduce the amount and toxicity of waste that goes into the waste stream. The project was designed to encourage city and school employees, residents, and businesses to find ways to consume and throw away less.
Americans are the most wasteful people on the planet, we throw away:
4 pounds of trash per person per day, a rate that has doubled since 1950
Enough aluminum cans every 3 months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.
28 billion pounds of food waste - more than McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King combined sell each day.
Enough glass bottles and jars every week to fill a skyscraper.