The critical first step of waste prevention has been overshadowed by a focus on recycling. Please help to promote a greater awareness of the importance of the "Reduce" part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra.
* Simplify: Simplify your life as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis. By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less/create less waste in the future. Learn more through books on voluntary simplicity.* Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product - do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)? When you are thinking about buying something, try the 30-Day Rule -- wait 30 days after the first time you decide you want a product to really make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying.
: As much as possible, create a tree-free home:
o replace paper napkins with cloth napkins
o replace paper towels with a special set of cloth towels/napkins (or cut up old t-shirts for great towels) - store the used ones in a small container in your kitchen and just wash and reuse
o purchase bleach-free, toilet paper that is made from the highest post-consumer waste content you can find (80% minimum)
o if you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available (or hemp/alternative-source paper, if you can afford it)
o create and use note pads from once-used paper
o leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board
o make your own cards/letters from once-used products or handmade paper
o if you will be doing construction on your house, search out alternatives to using newly cut wood