Reduce is the first option in the waste management hierarchy and it is the first step you can take to help protect our environment. Before you purchase a product, evaluate the life-cycle of the product you are purchasing. What will the product be used for; how long it will be used and what will happen to it when you are done being used?
Reducing our consumption of nonessential products will help to ensure natural resources are preserved, litter is prevented, materials will not unnecessarily end up in the landfill and global carbon emissions will be reduced. To put it simply, if you don’t need it; don’t buy it.
Waste reduction is not a new concept for our country. During World War II, Americans were encouraged to support the troops through conservation. Americans reduced demand for food by growing “victory gardens,” conserved fuel by ride sharing, and limited consumption of new goods by repairing broken items. This was an effort that every American citizen participated in. We did it for our country then and we can do it for our environment now.
One way to get started is monitoring what you put in your garbage every day. Write it down on a sheet of paper and at the end of the week, look to see what you have thrown away; are there patterns? This will help you understand your consumption habits to make future adjustments to help reduce the footprint of waste you produce.
Other steps to reduce waste can exist through the items you purchase. Consumers have the power to drive innovation at businesses by purchasing products that have less packaging. If there is a similar product with less packaging (preferably packaging that is recyclable), buy the product with less packaging. This reduces the waste you have produced from the product you purchased. Customers can voice their opinions to businesses in a variety of ways including emailing their customer service, direct messaging them through social media or calling their corporate headquarters. By, using your voice and your purchasing power, you can help drive demand for businesses to do their part to recreate the design of products to reduce waste and using recycled materials in their products.
Reuse helps reduce carbon emissions by decreasing the demand to make and ship new items. When purchasing an item, consider the life expectancy of the products being purchased and where they will end up once discarded. Thrift stores, reuse marketplaces, and reuse stores exist to keep good quality, usable items out of the landfill. This provides a longer life to the material being made and is less of an impact on the environment. So, before you purchase something new, ask yourself it you can buy it used and look there first. Lincoln and Lancaster County have a wide variety of stores to choose from. See the list below for additional ideas.