Pre-Cycle To Reduce Waste


By Molly Brooks, Director of Outreach and Communications for Recycle Utah in Park City. 

Recycling reduces the use of energy and water, saves landfill space, and mitigates the impacts of climate change. Even more important than recycling, however, is reducing waste in the first place, or pre-cycling. Here are just a few ideas:

Grocery Shopping

  • Buy products with only a small amount of packaging, or none at all. Choose loose fruits and vegetables at the grocery store and use reusable mesh bags instead of plastic bags.
  • Choose items that are available in bulk.
  • Use reusable cloth bags instead of plastic or paper bags. Keep a small, foldable bag in your car or purse, as well as cloth bags in your car.
  • Avoid buying drinks in disposable containers and make your own at home instead. For example, buy bulk powder to make sports drinks, or use a soda machine to make sparkling water. 
Dining Out
  • Use a reusable metal straw for drinks, or opt for no straw at all.
  • When getting coffee to go, bring your own reusable mug.
  • Bring a reusable container for leftovers when you go out to dinner.
  • When ordering food to go or for delivery, request no plastic cutlery – use your own at home or keep a reusable set with you. 
At Home
  • Opt for reusable cloth rags and cloth napkins, instead of paper towels and napkins.
  • Use a reusable water bottle, with water from the tap.
  • Since most toothbrushes contain plastic, metal, and nylon, they can be difficult to recycle. Use a bamboo toothbrush instead, and compost the handle when you’re done with it.
Other Ideas
  • Avoid any products with expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam), since most of it can’t be recycled.
  • Avoid shopping online and buy local products instead, in order to reduce transportation packaging.
Molly Brooks is the Director of Outreach and Communications for Recycle Utah in Park City.