An inverted pyramid with Reduce at the top, followed by reused, recycle and compost, recover, and landfill

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (or the 3 Rs) is a common saying to describe the Hierarchy of Waste Management. While recycling is an important way to divert material away from landfill, the focus should be higher up the hierarchy with Reduce being the top priority.  Making simple changes to our everyday habits can make a big difference in the amount of waste we create.

Waste reduction is any action that aims to reduce the quantity of waste that is disposed of in in the recycling, organics or garbage streams.

Two easily achievable waste reduction goals are to reduce our use of single-use plastic products and to reduce wasted food.

These tips and strategies will help you get creative with waste reduction in our own life while setting an example for those around you! Every effort no matter how big or small makes a difference.

Use This

Reusable travel coffee mug

Real cutlery

Cloth napkin

Beeswax or reusable container

Reusable coffee pod

Cotton mesh produce bag

Dryer ball

Cloth towel

Reusable water bottle

Tote or reusable bag

Reusable silicon or fabric sandwich bag

Reduce That

Coffee Cup

Single-use plastic Cutlery

Paper Napkin

Food wrap

Coffee pod

Plastic produce bag

Dryer sheet

Paper towel

Plastic water bottle

Single-use plastic bag

Plastic sandwich bag

Ways to Waste Less...


Before you leave home:

  • Pre-plan meals to use what is already in the fridge.
  • Note “best before” dates to make sure you use those products and leftovers first.
  • Make an “eat me first” section in your fridge.
  • Take inventory of what’s in your cupboards and fridge to avoid buying double.
  • Make your grocery list based on your meal plan and inventory – consider using a phone app to save paper!

In the grocery store:

  • Stick to the list! Don’t shop hungry as that can lead to impulse buys and unnecessary items. Shopping with a list can also save time, making your trip to the store shorter.
  • Visit the ‘reduced’ section for deals on your grocery list items that are close to their “best before” dates (consider freezing them).
  • Get to know your grocery store staff. They may split meats and produce into smaller portions and can provide tips on how to best store food.

When you get home:

  • Store fruits and vegetables properly to ensure they last longer. Remember; some parts of the fridge are warmer than others!
  • Freeze foods to keep them from going to waste.
  • Label items to track what it is and the date it went in the freezer.
  • Be creative with leftovers—consider dips, sauces, soups, casseroles, smoothies, and more.
  • Be familiar with what “expiry” and "best before" dates mean.
During events
  • Use washable plates and utensils instead of disposable ones.
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
  • Borrow or rent items that you use only seasonally or occasionally.
When shopping
  • Buy in bulk if it makes sense for your family. If a product will spoil before you can use it, bulk may not be the best option.
  • Buy loose fruits and vegetables instead of packaged Bring your own canvas or reusable bags.
  • Bring your own reusable containers to a local bulk food or zero waste store.
  • Buy concentrated products.
  • Avoid non-compostable and non-recyclable packaging.
  • Avoid excess packaging and single-serving packages.
  • Buy reusable products, such as cloth napkins.
  • Do not use a bag when making small purchases.
  • Make your own reusable bag!
When getting take out
  • Bring your own reusable cup when getting coffee. Many retailers offer a discount.
  • Bring a reusable straw and utensils.
  • Bring your own container to use for leftovers.
When packing lunch
  • Store your lunch in a reusable container and a reusable bag.
  • Buy only what you need.
  • Buy high quality garments that will last.
  • Donate all unwanted textiles to local textile reuse and recycling organizations.
  • Borrow, share or swap clothing.
  • Mend clothing that is torn.
During the holidays