Waste reduction starts at the store. If you don’t buy it, you can’t waste it. But obviously we all have to buy stuff. So make sure that what you buy will have a minimal impact on the planet.
Borrow. Before you buy anything, do you want it for life, or is it just one use and then it will sit alone on a shelf or in a garage? Can you borrow it from someone? If you are doing a one-time project, check with your neighbors or friends to see if they have the tools you need. If you don’t know if a movie is good, rent it. Now, books are tricky. I have strong emotional attachments to books, so I frequently buy, especially if it’s a book by a certain author. But if you don’t have strong attachments or just want to check something out, go to the library! Ever since I got on my healthy and eco-friendly kick, I’ve looked at or checked out at least 20 books from the library. I know as humans we love our stuff, but if you only need it once, everyone if better off if you can borrow or rent. Plus, borrowing saves money as well as resources!
Buy what you need. The easiest way to reduce waste is to reduce what you are able to waste. Before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it. Are you going to use/consume it, or is it going to sit on the shelf until you throw it away? Do you really need that 4th set of measuring cups (I always playfully yell at Will about his 3 sets of measuring cups and 4 liquid measuring cups). Don’t buy more food than you can eat before it goes bad. Yes, a gallon of milk may be cheaper by the ounce, but it won’t be if you can only drink half a gallon in the amount of time before it goes bad. Look at the stuff in your house that just sits there or gets thrown away unused. Now stop buying those things, at least in that quantity.
Buy used. Do certain used items give you an icky feeling? Do you prefer books that are crisp and new? I get that, I do. But you can save so many resources and reduce someone else’s waste by buying used. Plus, you’ll save money! Get started by buying you kid’s clothes used. They’ll just grow out of them before they can do much damage, and now you can sell them back and use that money to buy them new clothes. Just check for stains and rips in the store, then wash when you get home. It is also possible to find used books in very good condition. There’s a whole host of stores and garage sales waiting for you to find a treasure. Decorations, furniture, clothes, books, movies, etc. If it isn’t disposable, you can find it used (maybe stay away from underwear, though). Just remember to pay it forward and donate or sell your old items instead of tossing them in the trash.