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Precycling is the practice of seeking to reduce consumer waste by buying unpackaged, reusable, or recyclable products. This stops the waste before it happens by preventing it at the source. Before buying an item, the buyer thinks about what will eventually happen to it in terms of waste created, including the packaging. This practice is easily achievable and ultimately limits the amount of trash produced.

Although recycling is significantly better than sending recyclables to a landfill, recycling still requires a great amount of energy and resources through the processing and transportation of recycled items. Precycling happens before recycling. It is meant to reduce the overall need for waste management by preventing it in the first place. Precycling reduces all waste including recycled waste. This is why it should take place before recycling.

Not only does precycling make less of an ecological footprint, but it also can help with saving money. Buying something that can be used multiple times means it will have to be bought less. For instance, using a reusable towel instead of paper towels results in not having to buy them so often.

Ways to precycle:

  • Consider what will happen to the materials that you buy once you’re done with them; avoid materials that you know will go to the landfill.

  • Buy products with minimal packaging or with glass containers. After using the glass containers, they can be washed and used for something else.

  • Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags when shopping.

  • Take your own thermals to coffee shops rather than using the disposable cups provided.

  • Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.

  • In general, just use items that can be reused.


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