Reduce, Reuse, Refill – Tips
Like Mies van der Rohe, we Waste Watchers believe that ‘less is more’. Choose fewer, better quality things that are meant to last instead of buying more stuff that will likely end up in the trash.
Use the following tips to make the switch to fewer but higher quality possessions, the durable not the disposable, the heirloom not the short-lived — you know, products you love using so much you wouldn’t want to throw them away. (There’s a reason why durable is better than disposable and reduce, reuse and refill come before recycle.)
BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED
Avoid ‘Buy One, Get One Free’
Giving into to ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ or ‘Free Gift with Purchase’ promotions at the Clinique counter and everywhere else in between, will just make you want to buy more stuff that will just clutter your bathroom and cosmetics bag. Buy what you need — and no more!
The exception being if you are shopping at a store that sells naked products with minimal packaging. Gina tells us about her favorite packaging-free bath and beauty products in At Lush Cosmetics, It’s All About Naked Products — and Bubbles.
Live Simply Like the Swedes!
The Swedish culture has produced a lifestyle and products that emphasizes simplicity and of course, less but better stuff. The Swedes place more value on utilitarian goods than on ornate, materialistic items. You can read more about the Swedish culture in Christina’s post The Law of Jante Inspires Swedes, Ikea and Volvo to Live Simply.
Try making a pledge to actively abstain from using wasteful products, such as single use plastic bottles and cutlery. You can participate in worldwide challenges, such as Plastic Free July, through which you commit to avoid any new plastic for a day, a week, or a whole month in July. It is an experience that will make you reassess your plastic consumption and reinforce the idea that ‘less is better.’ Read more about the challenge in Gabrielle’s post Plastic Free July.
Embrace the Concept of Virtual Ownership
When it comes to shopping for clothes, Less but better stuff is definitely more to our friend Marissa Feinberg of GreenSpaces NY pins her dream wardrobe onto a Pinterest board instead of buying it. This gives her a sense of owning something without actually having buying it, owning it, and shoving it into what might otherwise be a pretty crammed closet.
CHOOSE DURABLE NOT DISPOSABLE
Don’t Be Tempted by the Free and the Cheap
Disposable pens are great example. Picking up pens at work, at the bank, hotel rooms and conferences quickly leads to ‘DPP’ — disposable pen proliferation. You find you have too many disposable pens overflowing from cups and pencil cases in every room of the house! Like Fredrica in What I Plan to Do About My Disposable Pen Peeve, decline promotional pens, give away those excess disposable pens to school supply drives or needy students, and make a conscious switch to refillable pens.
BRING YOUR OWN
Bring Your Own Bag
Down with disposables! Part of living a no-waste lifestyle means opting for the less but better stuff: the durable alternatives to single use, disposable products. Cut down on waste by bringing your own. For example, reusable cloth bags are super chic and there are many designs and sizes available to meet everyone’s needs.
One of our Waste Watchers recommends the packable bags from Reuseit.com. Just tuck one away in the side pocket of your purse and you are good to go! Whip it out whenever you’re offered a plastic bag. Think of all the plastic bags you cut down on when you make opting for the less but better stuff a daily habit!
Bring Your Own Lunch
When you order takeout every day at work, you leave a trail of plastic utensils and styrofoam containers in your wake. Cut back on to-go food packaging waste by brown bagging your lunch. Read more about other ways to solve the to-go food packaging waste problem in Meredith’s post What to Do About To-Go Food Packaging Waste.
Carry Reusables in Your Purse
It’s easier than you think. Learn about what Frederica carries in her purse to restaurants, grocery stores, and those “just in case” moments in this post, What’s In Your Purse?
Switch to a Reusable Coffee Cup
Beth from the WeHateToWaste team loves her Keep Cup – they’re lightweight, keep your beverages hot for up to an hour and a half and come in all sort of fun colours and designs. Keep cups are dishwasher safe, recyclable at the end of their life and only take the equivalent of 20 disposable coffee cups to produce! And you won’t burn your hand on that freshly poured coffee. Many cafes now offer a discount for bringing your own mug – what’s not to love? Check out our Kill The Cup story for more reusable coffee cup inspiration.
Got No Space to Carry Reusables? Try Collapsables
Chris from the WeHateToWaste community vowed never to use a foam cup again, so she carries a collapsable cup in her purse. She uses it when she’s at a restaurant and wants to take a drink to-go and says it folds up small so it’s easy to carry even when she doesn’t need it! Check out Collapse-A-Cup here.
You can also find collapsable food containers that are easy to carry on-the-go for preventing all the packaging waste that comes with doggie bags and take out. Read our The Future of Doggie Bags story to learn more about getting your meal to-go, waste free!
Choose a Refillable Water Bottle
Refill it with tap or filtered water instead of purchasing packaged bottled water, (which is likely only purified by a municipality). Look for a Global Tap, a water fountain specially designed for filling bottles to refill your water bottle on the go.
Need more incentive? Check out Miranda’s post, Finally, A Viable Alternative to Bottled Water.
Ditch Those Paper Coffee Filters
If you’re an avid coffee drinker the morning routine of tossing the used paper filter and replacing it with a new one is so second nature you could do it in your sleep. And we all know if you haven’t had your first coffee yet, you may as well be asleep anyway! The daily habit of tossing and replacing coffee filters–especially if you make multiple pots a day–can amass a whole lot of paper waste.
By replacing the paper filters with reusable mesh filters you can divert a ton of waste from heading to the landfill. Every morning instead of dumping your paper filters and grounds into the trash, save the grounds to add to your compost pile. Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen and a great addition to your compost.
You can also save the grounds and make a natural body scrub. And you thought all your morning coffee could do was wake you up…
Reuse Mailing Envelopes
In the WeHateToWaste office, all of our mail is sent out in reused envelopes and boxes. Just cover the old mailing labels with a new label (ours are SUPER big to make sure the original address is covered up) and add postage.
Reuse Your Packaging
Wash and reuse plastic zipper bags and use them to organize those game pieces that always seem to get lost. Peanut butter jars make the perfect piggy bank.
Save Unused School Supplies for Next Year
For parents and students out there, there is a whole treasure trove of school supplies already in your possession — the leftover notebooks, pens, binders, and other items from last year! Anne takes the unused paper from spiral notebooks and repurposes them into a stack of loose leaf paper for the next year. Read more of her tips for making school supplies last well into the next year in her post.
Reuse Flowers for Decoration
Make the memories of a special event last longer by saving the flower centerpieces to make your own decorations. Kate from the We Hate To Waste team collected flowers left from college events and hung them upside down in her dorm to dry. Once the flowers dried, they last for months as decorations.
RESPECT HEIRLOOM PRODUCTS
Give the Gift of History
Want to create less stress and more memories over the holidays? For Christmas one year, ‘Junky’ Jacquie created a cookbook of recipes gathered from five generations of Ottmans. We’ll bet you can do something similar. Don’t worry about getting fancy — it’s the thought that counts!
Invest in the Good Stuff and Care for It
Snapple bottles boast their contents are ‘Made from the best stuff on Earth’, and so should all of your belongings. Invest in the good stuff and save time and money in the long run by taking good care of those possessions. Read Fredrica’s post The Deep Meaning of Possessions for more inspiration for living with less but better stuff.
In With the Old, Out With the New
The old adage, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ has a Waste Watcher twist, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t replace it.’ Avoid the temptation to replace perfectly good electronics with newer models just to get the latest gidget and gadget. See ‘Junky’ Jacquie’s post The Older it is the Longer It Lasts if you need more proof for why it’s best to live with less but better stuff.
BUY CLASSIC STYLES
Dress Like Audrey Hepburn
Forget about the latest runway designs and fast fashion frocks. Let less but better stuff be your guide in shops and department stores everywhere, every day. Make classic white tops and black Capri pants signature staples in your wardrobe — and stay stylish for years to come.