Source Reduction (Waste Prevention)

Defining Source Reduction and Its Purpose

Source reduction is also known as waste prevention and means using less material to get the job done. Source reduction involves eliminating waste before it is created. It includes the design, manufacture, purchase or use of materials and products to reduce the amount or toxicity of what is thrown away. Best of all, practicing source reduction can save you money.

Waste Prevention Tips for Around the Home, Yard and Office

  • Avoid using disposable cups, plates and cutlery.
  • Design mailers which avoid the use of envelopes.
  • Donate magazines to schools, libraries or doctor offices or subscribe to digital versions.
  • Donate unwanted items (food, clothing, equipment, furniture or appliances) to charitable organizations.
  • Eliminate unnecessary forms in the office, go digital.
  • Make reports and other documents available online.
  • Print or copy on both sides of the paper.
  • Purchase items in bulk or economy size. Look for concentrate form and reusable containers.
  • Purchase only items that you need or intend to use soon.
  • Purchase products with the least amount of packaging. More of your dollar will go toward the product instead of the packaging.



  • Repair items rather than purchasing new ones.
  • Reuse plastic and paper bags. Better yet, use cloth or mesh bags to hold your purchases.
  • Save old bows, tissue paper, Styrofoam peanuts and gift boxes to wrap future gifts.
  • Sell unwanted items (clothing, equipment, furniture or appliances).
  • Start a backyard compost pile. Home compost can be used in gardens or flower beds.
  • Use a mulching mower to finely shred your grass and leave on the lawn to add nutrients back to the soil.
  • Use a note app on your phone instead of memos.
  • Use rechargeable batteries whenever possible.
  • Invest in quality and buy once instead of lower quality that may need replaced more often
  • If you have young children, consider hand-me-down clothes.