When you reduce waste, you don’t have to worry about putting it in the garbage or recycling it later. Changing the way you do things is the key….whether you are shopping, at work or simply enjoying a BBQ with friends.

Reducing waste is the first part of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” hierarchy and there are good reasons why – when we reduce waste we are optimising the use of raw materials. For example, a dressmaker may arrange pattern pieces on a length of fabric in a particular way, so that the clothing is cut out from the smallest area of fabric.

There are lots of ways you can do your part – when you shop for fruit and veggies, only buy what you need for the next couple of days. You can also buy your food in bulk and place it in reusable containers. You will save yourself some dollars as well.

The resources that households use can be reduced a great deal by using electricity carefully and this may be as easy as turning off lights and equipment when it is not needed and by reducing the number of trips you make in the car. We can all reduce the amount of waste we create by buying fewer products and by buying things which last longer. Mending broken or worn items of clothing or equipment also contributes to minimising household waste. Individuals can minimise their water usage, and walk or cycle to their destination rather than using their car. This will save fuel and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The amount of waste we can save as individuals may be relatively small compared to overall waste volumes, but we can still make a difference with our buying power. As consumers, we can influence manufacturers and distributors by avoiding buying products that do not have eco-labelling and choosing products that minimise the use of packaging.

You can also reduce the amount of food thrown away and it starts with some planning. Look in the fridge, freezer and cupboard and make a list, so you only buy what you need and make the most of what you have. Fruit will last longer when you keep it in the fridge – especially if it is already ripe. If your apples have a bruise or two, try putting them in a crisp, make an apple sauce or start the day with a smoothie and those over ripe bananas would make a great banana loaf.