Zero Waste Purchasing

When purchasing, the more you know, the better the choices that you make will be.

We’d like to offer helpful resource suggestions to create a more sustainable home. Many of the things we purchase have an impact on the environment, and you may never have thought about those impacts. We hope the following will help you navigate your way to waste reduction, and hopefully savings as well.

How often should I review purchasing options? Find a time each year that makes sense for you. Maybe at the end or beginning of a year, or when you do spring clean-out.

What are the 4Rs? The 4Rs are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (Compost). Follow the “4Rs Hierarchy” by attempting to reduce and reuse before recycling and composting, because larger positive impacts on the environment are up higher on the hierarchy.

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What’s good, better, and best when it comes to zero waste purchasing? Within each of the sections below, there will be a three-tier list of options in order from most preferable (Best), to next most preferable (Better), and still good but not as preferable (Good).

BEST = Reduce (Source Reduction)

Practices that reduce waste from the start are the best option and have the largest positive impact on the environment and waste reduction. These practices result in the purchase of fewer products whenever possible and are cost-effective without reducing safety or quality. In addition to helping the planet by using less energy and resources, some of the purchasing decisions can help save money too.

BETTER = Reuse

Reuse is second on the “4Rs Hierarchy” because it is more important and impactful than recycling. In addition to supporting the reuse industry, reusing items, buying used, reusable containers, and refurbished products prevent further resources from being used in the production of new items and also saves you money! Do-it-yourself or make-it-yourself items also save money and lots of resources that would be used in the production, transportation and delivery of new items.

Refurbished doesn’t mean that products are worn down at all, because they usually include a rigorous process to make sure the product is still in great shape. Products that are remanufactured (also known as refurbished) are preferred whenever feasible since they save money and help the environment, such as by preventing new electronics from being made and resources from being used in that process. When buying or making items, consider using reusable containers for them such as glass or durable plastic.

GOOD = Recycle (Recycled Content Products) and Composting

To the greatest extent possible, recycled content in the products you buy reduces new resources and materials from being used in the production of products. Buying recycled-content products and supplies supports recycling and composting markets and industry. Look for “post-consumer” recycled content which comes from the materials placed in blue recycling bins. This is different from “pre-consumer” recycled content, which is usually scrap overruns at the factory.

Biodegradable or compostable products that break down through composting processes are preferred over those that are non-compostable and release methane in a landfill, contributing to climate change.

Sections of this Guide 
Food and Serve Ware
Home Office and Furniture
Appliances, Electronics, Heating, and Cooling