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Tips for Zero Waste

Let’s help our planet’s resources last for generations to come.  Recycling and composting are all well and good, but avoiding the production of an item is even better, since 94% of the resources used to make a product become waste even before the product is ever manufactured

Use the checklists to see what good habits you already practice and what new practices you can try.  If you can think of more ways to reduce waste, please email us at





 I already


  I will

  try for

 1 week

Easy switch at home



I clean up spills with an old rag.



I use cloth napkins at meal time.



I use a handkerchief.



I pack lunch contents in reusable packaging.



When receiving unwanted catalogues, I call up the company to be taken off the mailing list.



For envelopes, I use the ones that come inside other envelopes.  (Cross off the bar code first!)



I wash out plastic bags for reuse.



I use reusable adhesive or clips instead of tape when possible.



I use rechargeable batteries in items I use on a consistent basis.



I print on the backside of used paper when possible.



I have my printer set on double-sided as default.



I pay bills online.



I sign up for paperless statements (e.g., utilities, banking, credit cards).



I write notes on scratch paper.



I use a refillable ballpoint pen.




Easy switch away from home



I take reusable bags into stores.



I put produce loose in my cart or in a reusable bag.



I bring a reusable take-out container into restaurants and bakeries.



I say "no straw” with my drink order.



I drink water from a water fountain or from a reusable bottle.



I take a travel mug in for coffee fill-ups.



I buy the larger-sized version of a product and make my own individual servings.



I buy the reusable over the disposable version of a product (e.g., razor).



I choose recyclable over non-recyclable packaging on comparable products.



I use the bulk bins and bring my own container.



I leave the plastic utensils behind on a take-out order.



I forego the plastic lid on a take-out drink when practical.







 I already


  I will

  try for

 1 week

A little more effort required



I search used goods sites when in need of something (e.g., Freecycle, Craigslist).



On comparable products, I buy the one with the most post-consumer content.



On comparable products, I choose the one with no or less packaging.



I make my own home cleaning products. (See and type in "homemade cleaning products” in the search box.)



I buy locally (farmers’ markets, home stands) and bring my own baskets/bags.



I make my own foodstuffs (bread, yogurt, desserts).



I buy a higher quality item over its more easily broken counterpart.



I subscribe to and/or to cut down on unsolicited mail.



I organize get-togethers or parties with reusable dishware in mind. BI Zero Waste has a tableware lending library available for use by local nonprofit and private occasions. Email .



When I receive a mail-order product whose packaging is not recyclable, I call up the company to request alternative packaging.



Try this:  For one week, throw away whatever trash you normally would, but do so by category.  Have small, open boxes and in one put the plastic stuff, in another the paper-based items, in a third the food, etc.    After a week, inspect each container.  Are there things that you can actually recycle or compost?  (Did you know that Bainbridge Disposal is now accepting all food waste except for cooking oil and grease, as well as soiled paper such as tissues, towels, napkins, plates and cups?)  Can you use a more durable item the next time in place of something you discarded (e.g., a reusable container over a plastic bag)?  After thinking it over, pledge to make one change for the following week.

Rethink   •   Reduce   •   Reuse

ZW Hot Tip: Opting out of phone books is E-A-S-Y! Register here, then select the books you do not wish to receive.