Waste minimisation

Whilst it is generally accepted that recycling is one of the best ways of dealing with waste, a much better way is by producing less waste in the first place.

There are lots of ways to minimise waste:

  • buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than packaged varieties, or choose products packaged in recyclable material 
  • buy products like washing up liquid in large quantities to minimise packaging waste
  • create a shopping list before you go shopping – on average, a third of food purchased is thrown away - more on reducing food waste 
  • hire CDs and DVDs from your library and video shop
  • buy products made from recycled material (for example: toilet paper, kitchen roll, stationery, bin liners, etc)
  • reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by contacting the Mailing Preference Service at Department AM, Freepost 22, London W1E 7EZ to have your name removed from most mailing lists in the country; use one of our ‘no junk mail’ stickers; contact organisations whose email distribution lists you are a part of and ask to be removed; avoid joining new mailing lists, including ticking the ‘edited register’ option when completing the annual Electoral Register form; sign up for electronic bank statements/utility bills where possible
  • re-use envelopes by placing a sticker over the address
  • give old pairs of spectacles to opticians (most will accept these)
  • buy re-useable cotton nappies and if possible use a nappy service - Real Nappy Association: 020 8299 4519
  • buy high-quality goods that will last longer
  • use energy efficient light bulbs, which can last up to eight times longer
  • when using your pc, only print what is necessary and use both sides of the paper; use scrap paper if you do not need a high quality document
  • use blank sides of scrap paper for making notes and lists
  • borrow books from your local library rather than buy them new
  • take a packed lunch to work rather than buying pre-packed sandwiches
  • buy wrapping paper in rolls, rather than single sheets which could mean that you use more than you need or waste paper that can not be used
  • re-use festive ribbons and bows for gifts throughout the year
  • consider buying a reusable Christmas tree or arrange for your real tree to be collected for shredding.  
  • pass unwanted toys and clothes to neighbours, nurseries or charities
  • use a milk delivery service or vegetable box delivery service
  • try to buy refillable pens
  • Freecycle - if you have unwanted furniture or looking for furniture for free, why not contact the local freecycle network
  • Rework is a new reuse workshop where repairable items can be fixed up and sold on. The Rework workshop will accept the following items; home furniture (such as beds, sofas, tables, chairs, cupboards and drawers), large appliances (such as fridges, washing machines, tumble driers and cookers), small electricals, textiles (such as curtains, carpet, fabric, bed linen and clothes), bicycles and children's equipment (such as prams, buggies, cots and toys)
  • London Re-use Network collects and sells unwanted household items, giving them new homes in the capital

Think twice before...

  • buying bottled water when chilled tap water might do just as well
  • using disposable products such as tissues, face wipes, razors, paper and plastic cups, plates and cutlery
  • throwing away your garden waste - can you compost instead?
  • using cling film and aluminium foil to wrap food and use boxes with lids instead
  • reaching for a plastic bag at the supermarket - try buy a re-usable plastic bag or take your own
  • throwing away items such as clothing and electrical items – can the item be repaired?