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Reduce your consumption (and your waste) and purchase products made with recycled materials

Conduct a waste audit. Write down everything you throw away for one week. Review your waste habits to determine if you are throwing away things that can be recycled or reused. You can also identify disposable products that can be replaced with reusable items.

Buy less. Before you make a purchase, consider whether it is something you really need. We often purchase unnecessary items that we end up throwing away—99% of the items we purchase are thrown away within 6 months! Consider why you need an item, how long you will use it, and whether it can be reused or recycled once you are finished with it before you make a purchase. 

Rent instead of purchasing items. Many items, such as tools, tents, lawn and garden equipment, can be rented instead of purchased. If you are only going to use a garden tiller once a year, rent one instead.

Use less. You may not be able to completely avoid some purchases, such as paper and laundry detergent, but by taking care only to use what you need, you’ll reduce your overall consumption. For example, only print documents when you really need a hard copy and make sure to print on both sides. Keep a stack of scrap paper handy for use when printing drafts and personal documents.

Purchase products with less packaging. Make it a habit to think about the waste consequences of all your purchases. Many items come with layers of unnecessary packaging that must be thrown away. Choose items with little or no packaging and set an example for manufacturers. 

Purchase products made from recycled materials. In order for recycling to truly take hold, demand for recycled products must exist. Make an effort to purchase items made with recycled materials, such as paper (look for 30% post consumer content), doormats made from old car tires, and carpet made from old plastic bottles. 

Visit the Recycled Products Guide to search for items.

Purchase refillable products. You can reduce packaging waste by as much as 80% when you purchase items such as shampoo, lotion, and hand soap that can be refilled.

Reduce the amount of clothing you buy and eventually discard by dressing your children in hand-me-downs. Children grow out of clothing quickly making gently used items easy to find. Sharpen your sewing skills and make clothes last even longer!

Remove your name from junk mail lists. You can recycle your junk mail, but why not reduce it to begin with? Up to 100 million trees are used for junk mail each year! Visit the Direct Marketing Association to get off junk mail lists (https://www.dmachoice.org/MPS/proto1.php). 

Credit card companies and banks often sell customer names and information to marketers who send you junk mail. Call your credit providers and tell them you don’t want your information sold. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5OPTOUT to have the national credit bureaus remove your name from the lists they sell.