Making Less Garbage

The average American makes about 1,500 pounds (675 kilograms) of garbage each year. Most of it ends up in landfills and incinerators. We can significantly reduce that amount if we buy only what we need, use some items longer, and recycle more of our garbage. Reducing our consumption is the best option.

When you buy something, ask yourself:

  • Do you really need it?
  • Is it energy efficient?
  • Is it of sufficient quality? Will it last?
  • Can you take care of it and use it well?
  • Can it be repaired if a part breaks?
  • Can you borrow or rent it (if you only need it for a short time)?
  • Can you pass it on after you're finished with it?
  • Can you recycle it after you finish using it?
  • Can it be dismantled for recycling?
  • Does it have "composite" materials (materials that can't be separated)?
  • Is it made from recyclable material?

    Things you can do to prevent waste:

  • Take your own bags shopping.
  • Reuse paper and plastic bags.
  • Reuse containers.
  • Use back sides of paper for scrap paper.
  • Use old envelopes for notes.
  • Buy and sell at rummage sales.
  • Donate items no longer needed to charity.
  • Use cloth napkins and cloth rags.
  • Avoid excess packaging/buy in bulk.
  • Buy refills.
  • Repair items or have them repaired.
  • Use Sunday comics for wrapping paper.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.


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