Reduce is the first and most important “R” in the Waste Management Hierarchy. 

Reducing waste requires us to rethink our daily habits to avoid creating waste in the first place.  It’s also about making informed decisions when we do purchase products or services. In it’s simplest form, “reduce” means using less stuff.  The less waste we bring into our lives, the less waste we have to manage.



  • Make a list before going to the store to help you avoid impulse buys.
  • Give gifts of experience such as movie tickets or a restaurant gift certificate.
  • Shop at local markets and stores where products are made closer to home and often have less packaging.
  • Think about renting or borrowing items that you don’t often need, such as tools.
  • Refuse plastic bags and choose products with less packaging.
  • Purchase products in bulk, rather than single-serve containers. Divide snacks for lunches into reusable containers when you get home.
  • Purchase products in concentrated form such as fruit juice and laundry detergent.
  • Avoid purchasing disposable items such as plastic cutlery, paper plates and razors.
  • Invest in a set of rechargeable batteries.
  • Purchase LED or CFL bulbs, which last for years.
  • Invest in furniture and toys that will grow with your kids, as opposed to items which are only used for a short time.
  • Choose solid wood furniture, which is sturdier and lasts longer than particle board.
  • Choose clothing made from natural fibres like wool or cotton that tend to last longer than synthetic fabrics like acrylic and nylon.
  • Try to avoid purchasing cheap novelty items and toys that are not built to last and quickly end up in the landfill.





  • Repair appliances before tossing them aside for a newer model.
  • Give old wooden furniture a new life by sanding and re-staining.
  • Consider re-upholstering an old couch or chair; do it yourself or bring it to a furniture repair shop.
  • Give an outdated lamp a fresh look with a new shade.
  • Update cabinets, wardrobes and dressers with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware.
  • Give dated throw pillows an update with a new cover.
  • Extend the life of a worn duvet or comforter with a new duvet cover.




  • Choose paperless billing.
  • Subscribe to newspapers and magazines online.
  • Place a “no junk mail” sign on your mailbox.
  • Visit Canada Post’s website to find out how to remove your name from Addressed Admail mailing lists.
  • Contact the sender when you receive mail addressed to a previous occupant of your home or apartment.


  • Plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list. This will help avoid food (and money) wastage.
  • Make note of what you already have before you go to the grocery store.
  • Cook meals from scratch more often to avoid heavily-packaged convenience foods.
  • Pack your lunch for school or work this night before to avoid resorting to expensive and wasteful take out foods.
  • Only buy as much as you can eat by the best before day. If you’ve bought more than you can consume, freeze it for later.
  • Don’t over stock your fridge and keep it organized so you can see what you have. Food that gets lost in the back tends to get forgotten and spoil.
  • Use your judgement when it comes to “best before” dates. If a product hasn’t been opened, it will often keep a little longer.
  • Take smaller portions (and go back for seconds if you want) to leave leftovers that can be eaten later.
  • Store leftovers in individual portions. Have them for lunch or supper the next day or store them in the freezer for a quick meal later on.
  • Plan your next meal around your leftovers. Cooked too much rice? Have fried rice the next day. Have leftover roast chicken and vegetables? Make a chicken pot pie.
  • Plan end-of-the-week meals around what’s left in the fridge. Stir-frys and soups are a great way to use up a variety of leftover produce.
  • Use overripe fruits for baking (like banana bread) or smoothies.


  • Grow a kitchen herb garden to have fresh herbs ready when needed, rather than buying them packaged where they’ll be quick to spoil.
  • In the summer, try growing some veggies you consume regularly. Planting a few rows of leaf lettuce (in a container or in the ground) will keep you in salads all summer long and cut down on a lot of packaging.
  • Try re-sprouting vegetables. Leeks, green onions, romaine lettuce and celery will all re-sprout when the base (the part you would normally discard) is placed in water.
  • Pick wild berries like blueberries and raspberries when they’re in season for fresher fruit without all the packaging.


  • Avoid one-time-use cleaning supplies in favour of reusable and washable options.
    Avoid hazardous waste by making your own cleaning supplies from everyday household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and salt.
  • Avoid hazardous waste from chemical lawn and garden care products by using the following natural alternatives.
  • By making your own natural gardening products, you’ll save on packaging too.