Skip to content. Accessibility info.

What is Precycling?

Precycling is stopping waste before it happens. When you "precycle", you "think before you buy" products and their packaging. You make purchasing decisions that create less waste, make recycling easier and have fewer harmful impacts on the environment. These decisions include buying in bulk and concentrate, and buying products with less packaging. Precycling also involves "rethinking" – that is, asking yourself whether you really need to purchase an item and whether an item could be reused before you throw it away.

Why is precycling so important?

If you are not precycling, you are wasting resources and creating more waste than necessary! Over-packaged and disposable items are wasteful. However, there are alternatives to the wasteful packaging and merchandise on the market today. You, as a consumer, have the power to influence the types of products sold and the amount of waste generated in your community. Remember that today’s consumerism affects tomorrow’s environment.

How does precycling benefit me?

When you precycle, you eliminate the need to purchase items and you make buying decisions that can save you time and money. Not only will you reduce waste, you will also generate fewer recyclables!

How does precycling differ from recycling?

Precycling focuses on the first two of the "3Rs": reduce and reuse. Precycling stops waste before it is created, whereas recycling takes waste that is created and turns it into something else. Recycling is important, but it is not the whole solution to managing our solid waste.


Pre-cycle FAQs

Top 3 Precycle Tips

  • Avoid excess packaging
  • Buy items that will last
  • Reuse as much as you can


Holiday Tips



Precycle at Home
  • Use cloth instead of paper towels
  • Use rechargeable batteries
  • Donate clothing, toys and appliances to charities and non-profit organizations (in good condition)
  • Look for other Alternatives to Landfill
  • Repair broken items
  • Use glass food jars for storage
  • Save used brown paper bags, twist ties, plastic food bags, foam packing chips, gift wrap, holiday cards for reuse
  • Borrow or rent items you only use occasionally or consider buying and sharing that equipment with friends or family
  • Cut old bedding, socks and un-wearable clothes for rags
  • Donate used magazines and books to the doctor’s office, seniors’ homes or the local library before recycling them
  • Have your address removed from un-wanted mail lists


Precycle when Shopping
  • Buy in bulk
  • Buy loose fruits and vegetables instead of packaged
  • Bring your own canvas or reusable bags
  • Do not accept a bag when making small purchases
  • Avoid disposable items such as razors and toss-away dust cloths
  • Buy concentrates
  • Avoid non-compostable and non-recyclable packaging
  • Avoid single-serving packages
  • Buy reusable products, such as cloth napkins
  • Choose items with the least amount of packaging, or packaging that can be reused or recycled
Precycle at Work
  • When possible, receive email subscriptions for newsletters instead of paper
  • Use refillable pens instead of disposable
  • Circulate one copy of memos, letters, etc. instead of distributing individual copies
  • Erase and reuse computer disks
  • Use email for correspondence, memos, etc.
  • Make double-sided copies
  • Use a reusable travel mug
  • Set up a "reuse centre" for magazines, books, binders, diskettes, report covers and other office supplies
  • Cancel un-wanted fax advertisements


Precycle while Entertaining
  • Use washable plates and utensils instead of disposable
  • Use cloth instead of paper napkins
  • Borrow or rent items that you use only seasonally or occasionally
  • Buy snacks in bulk instead of single-serve
  • Send invitations via email.
  • Encourage guests to carpool.
  • Wrap gifts in reusable items to match the occasion like receiving blankets or dish towels.
  • Make decorations with reusable or recyclable material.


Precycle at School
  • Use both sides of your paper
  • Save scraps to use in making crafts
  • Bring a "wasteless" lunch using reusable containers in a reusable lunch bag
  • Set up a "reuse centre" for binders, folders, report covers and other supplies.