Prevention at Home

What is Waste Prevention?

Waste prevention (also known as source reduction) means to reduce the amount of solid waste generated or resources used without increasing toxicity in the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of products and packaging. IT IS NOT recycling, although these two solid waste management strategies are often confused with each other. Recycling is an effective way to manage waste materials once they have been generated; waste prevention actually reduces the amount of material used and therefore the amount discarded.

Did You Know? 

  • Oregonians generate 6 pounds of waste per person everyday (4 pounds are thrown away and 2 pounds are recycled). That’s more than 3.6 million tons in a year.
  • 4 cents of every dollar Americans spend on goods goes to packaging, $225 per person per year or $75 a month for a family of four.
  • Americans discard annually 183 million razors, 2.7 billion batteries, 140 million cubic meters of Styrofoam “packing peanuts,” 350 million pressurized paint cans, plus enough paper and plasticware to serve the world a picnic every other month.

Here’s What You Can Do…

  • Simplify your life. Think about what you enjoy doing most. Often, the things we cherish most in life aren’t for sale. Spend time discovering “low-tech” recreation: taking a walk, gardening, visiting friends, and stopping to “smell the roses.”
  • Think before you buy. How many times a day do you think about something you want to buy? We are encouraged daily with flashy enticements to buy products we don’t always need. Buying things we don’t really need can be expensive and clutter up your home.
  • Buy in bulk or “value-pack” sizes: You can save a bundle by buying in bulk. Some products are not available in bulk but might come in a large container or in a concentrate. You can save an average of 52% off the price of a heavily packaged product this way.
  • Purchase products that are durable and won’t break easily. Look for warranties, ask if the product can be repaired, and/or find out which product is rated highest in Consumer Reports.
  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers. Why spend money buying plastic and paper bags, aluminum foil, or wax paper? You can save money on your purchases and save money on your garbage bill by using containers over and over again.
  • Purchase reusable products. More and more of the products we buy are made to be used only once. That’s not very efficient. Look for refillable pens, lighters, real cameras, and cloth napkins and towels.
  • Repair broken or torn things. It is fun and satisfying to fix things when they break. You’ll save money, resources, and a trip to the store.
  • Give gifts that are resource efficient. An energy efficient lightbulb, a fancy lunchbox, a wrapped box that can be used over and over again. Give an experience instead of “stuff,” like a trip to the beach, a memorable event, or a hand-made gift.
  • Reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive.Ask to be removed from mailing lists you don’t want to be on. You can call the company’s 1-800 number if there is one, or if the mailing includes a reply envelope use it to mail a request to be removed from the mailing list. You can also write to the Direct Mail Marketing Association at P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735 and ask to be taken off of their master list.

You Can Make a Difference. Consider This…

If just 100 people stopped using paper cups every day and carried a reusable mug, collectively they would save the resources it takes to make 50,000 disposable cups a year.