Reduce, Reuse

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Environmental Shopping Tips         Stop Junk Mail         Local Reuse Stores




  • Buy in Bulk: Large, “family-size” containers require less packaging per pound than small, “single serving” packages. In addition to conserving resources, buying in bulk will generally save you money!
  • Look for items with little or no packaging: Many items come in a variety of packaging styles. Choose unpackaged items and concentrates whenever possible.
  • Buy durable products: You may spend a little more to purchase good quality products, but you won’t need to replace them as often.


  • Buying reusable products: Disposable products generate more waste than reusable products. Disposables often cost more in the long run! Look for reusable cameras, razors, lunch bags, cloth diapers, cloth napkins and towels, rechargable batteries and returnable beverage bottles.
  • Reuse Containers: Rinsed out glass and plastic containers make great storage containers for leftovers, hardware and more.
  • Reuse Bags: Whether cloth, plastic or paper, reuse grocery bags when you shop. Try keeping a stash in your car so you will always be prepared. Also, consider reusing produce bags.


  • Buy products or packages made from recycled materials: Many recycled paper products are currently on the market, including toilet tissue, paper towels and writing paper. Some products are packaged in containers made with recycled content. Read product labels! Purchasing recycled content products helps support the recycling industry by providing a demand for the materials we place in our recycling bins.
  • Buy recyclable packaging: Many products are offered in a variety of packaging styles. Packaging made from multiple materials are not recyclable. When possible, choose packaging made from a single time of material that is accepted for recycling.


  • Read product labels: Look for key words such as Poison! Danger! Warning! and Caution! Choose products with the lowest hazard (Caution is less hazardous than Poison) or with no hazard at all.
  • Buy safe alternatives: Salt, vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, baking powder and wood soap are some of the more common ingredients in many recipes for non-toxic cleaning. Contact RCSWD to request a free booklet of non-toxic cleaning recipes.


  • Talk to store managers: Sometimes your choices are limited by what the store has to offer. Encourage the store managers to stock products that you want to buy.
  • Write a letter or call the manufacturer: Whether you’re pleased or upset, manufacturers want to know what consumers think about their products and packaging. Be specific and made suggestions for improvement.
  • Target public officials: Write to legislators about issues you’d like to see changed. Generators: U.S. Senate; Washington, D.C. 20510 House of Representatives: U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20500 Visit your public library for the names and addresses of state and local officials.



Even though most junk mail is completely recyclable, a better option is to stop it before it’s produced. The two key steps are:

  1. Remove your name from existing mail lists.
  2. Prevent your name from getting on new lists.

These websites can help you get off of mailing lists: (for general mail cancellation) (credit card and insurance offers) (general direct marketing offers) (national opt-out list) (phone directories)



We’ve all heard the phrase before — one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Before looking for a place to dispose of something, try to think: “is it still usable?” Then check out our reuse store catalog! You can also post on or your local Front Porch Forum.

Additionally, there’s almost always a way to reuse items that you might normally throw out. Plastic bags, twist ties, bread clips, and other items that can’t be recycled can complement each other to store food and go bulk shopping. Even items that are put in the recycling (scrap paper, glass or plastic containers/bottles) will likely have more success being reused than tossed away. Just by searching “reusing items around the house” one can find so many creative ways to repurpose!