What is Precycling?

Shows various recyclables

If recycling had a best friend, it would be precycling. Precycling is about reducing your impact on what goes into the waste stream by purchasing and using items that are unpackaged, reusable or recycled. It has also been referred to as a low-waste lifestyle.

Precycling or adopting a low-waste lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. It takes intention and practice. Here are some baby steps to get you started.

  1. BYOB – Bring your own bottle and bag. It’s routine for a lot of us to drink bottled water or put our groceries in plastic bags because both items are convenient and readily available. At one point, these products seemed genius, but now they can be a real problem because plastic bags can’t be recycled in your curbside program and only one of every four plastic water bottles is recycled in the U.S. You can easily reduce -  or stop - using these by switching to reusable water bottles and grocery bags.
  2. Give old towels another life. Once bath towels have lost their fluffy luster, cut them into smaller squares and use them as dishcloths. It’s an easy and simple way to get the most out of them, saving money and waste.
  3. Shop your friends’ closets. Instead of heading to the mall for new clothes, call your stylish friends and suggest a clothes swap. It’s an eco-friendly way to update your wardrobe and catch up with your favorite people.
  4. Always recycle materials with impact. While it can be challenging to reduce your reliance on packaged goods, you can make a difference by choosing packaging that’s most beneficial to recycle. For example, aluminum cans can be recycled numerous times, conserving energy and natural resources. And when trying to decide from among plastic, paper or cardboard containers, remember paper and cardboard boxes are your best options.

While we’ve only covered a few precycling ideas, there are literally hundreds of ways to reduce waste in your life. For more articles about recycling, please visit our blog.