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Eco Note: Think Precycle This Holiday Season

From the Sustainability Council’s ECO-NOTES Team:

Precycling is defined as a reduction in the amount of materials consumed in an effort to decrease the amount of materials requiring recycling or disposal. By precycling, you can reduce waste by not buying something that will generate heaps of waste. Here are a few precycling suggestions to think about when shopping:

  1. Buy Items You Need and Will Use: Buying items you will use saves money and keeps clutter to a minimum. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”
  2. Select Products Carefully: When choosing products, consider the environmental impact of your purchase. Is it safe for the environment and your loved ones? Does it have special storage and disposal needs? Is there a nontoxic alternative product available? Is the product/packaging made of recycled/recyclable materials?
  3. Buy Locally, Think Globally: Buying locally reduces waste generated through transportation — including air and water pollution — and also supports the community. Purchasing local food from a farmer’s market or local producer allows you to enjoy fresh food that is not heavily packaged.
  4. Consider Products with Reduced or Zero Packaging: Packaging makes up more than 35% of our waste stream. If packaging can’t be avoided, choose products that have packaging made of recycled and recyclable materials. Buying in bulk and reusing shopping bags will reduce your packaging load. Canvas bags last a long time and endure the weight of groceries much better than paper or plastic. Don’t take a bag when you have single items.
  5. Avoid Plastic: A recycle symbol on plastic items and packages does not always mean an item is recyclable. The chasing arrows symbol has been taken over by the plastics industry, allowing them to look environmentally friendly without having to actually change their practices.
  6. Avoid Disposables: Don’t buy products manufactured for automatic disposal. Buy items that are designed for reuse or things that can be repaired. For example, using a refillable mug eliminates the need for disposable cups and often gets you a discount on your beverage.
  7. Reuse Items or Donate Them: When items are no longer useful to you, donate them to charity. You save landfill space, get a tax credit, and help someone else out!
  8. Compost: Feed your garden and it will feed you. Kitchen scraps like vegetable and fruit peels provide nourishment for your garden. Composting is easy! Check R.O.C.K.S. for more information.
  9. Take the Time to Give Feedback: Take a minute to talk to a store manager about a product or packaging preference. Patronize businesses that offer low-impact products and packaging. Write manufacturers with feedback on improving their product’s impact on the waste stream and environment. Contact your legislators to encourage legislation that supports these practices.
  10. Teach Your Children: Children are consumers of the present and the future. By teaching children to precycle, you help them take responsibility for their impact, reduce the strain on your budget, and make them better citizens of the planet. For more information on Greening Your Holiday:

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