Buy only what you need
The golden rule of reducing waste and supporting a ‘circular economy' is to only buy what you need in the first place. When you do shop for new goods, it’s important to buy items made to last and be easily repaired, and to steer clear of low quality products that are destined for landfill.
Choose reusable over single-use
Single-use plastics are contributing to our growing landfill waste and polluting our land and oceans. Choose to reuse by investing in items like a reusable water bottle, ‘keep cup’ for your daily coffee fix, reusable shopping bags, metal or bamboo straws (if you need them at all) and beeswax wraps to replace cling film. These items also make great gifts.
Go for the option with the least packaging
If you’re tossing up between unwrapped vine tomatoes and tomatoes in plastic packaging, opt for the unwrapped. While some packaging is necessary for food safety, many grocery and other items are over-packaged for convenience. This includes multi-packs of snack foods like chips and nuts, which could instead be purchased in one bag and divided into portions at home.
Check what’s recyclable and what’s not
Whether you’re shopping for groceries or a new appliance, take the time to check whether the product and its packaging can be recycled before you buy. Not only will you make a better choice for the environment, but you’ll signal to the retailer or manufacturer that recycling matters to you – and should matter to them too.
Choose recycled content
While recycling products and packaging after use is an essential part of reducing waste, the other part of the recycling equation is buying items made from recycled materials. When you do this you’ll help to ensure supply and demand for recycled materials are in balance, which means recycling systems remain sustainable over time.
Think twice about biodegradable plastics
Not all biodegradable plastics are created equal. Some break down into microplastics, while others are compostable at home, and some are compostable only in a high temperature commercial composting facility. Biodegradable plastics should never be recycled as they are designed to break down or ‘degrade’. Learn more about these plastics.