3Rs Lifestyle 


Buying less of something, or avoiding it altogether, uses the fewest resources and avoids the need to seek end-of-life options. Waste reduction is harder to measure than recycling – you can’t see the things you didn’t buy in the same way you can see how much you’ve filled up your recycling bin -- but it’s real all the same.  

How can I reduce? 

  • Don’t browse in stores. Identify what you need before you make the trip. Retailers are skilled at displaying items to encourage impulse buying – resist! As rule of thumb, if you didn’t go to the store with the intention of buying it, consider the possibility that you don’t really need it. 

  • Simplify your life – declutter (give it away) and remember to avoid buying items that will create a hodgepodge of things in your house again. As Oprah said, "if you don’t need it or love it, get rid of it!" Just because you get rid of a memento doesn’t mean you lose the memories. 

  • Replace hazardous products with non-toxic alternatives. For suggestions on less hazardous alternatives to common products, click here. 

  • Don't waste food - keep track of what you have on hand and use it while it is still fresh. Make a menu plan and buy groceries accordingly. 

  • Rent seldom used items, such as tools or partyware. Share those large, expensive, and occasionally used items, such as lawn mowers, gardening equipment and tools, with neighbours and friends. 

  • Choose multi-purpose products – printers that also scan and copy, all-purpose cleaners rather than specialized ones for each surface or type of room, and clothing that matches everything. This reduces the number of products you have to deal with, decreases packaging, and cuts down on clutter. 

  • Buy durable, long-lasting goods. Initially the cost may be higher, but you will save in the long run. If you don’t need an item for its full life-span, find someone else that can make use of it 


Reuse keeps things in circulation, which helps avoid the manufacture of new items. It saves money and helps the community by creating businesses. Second-hand stores for everything from music and books to clothing and household goods, as well as repair shops, all contribute to local economies. Reuse mostly occurs locally, so transportation costs and other effects are reduced.  

How can I reuse? 

  • Many things around the house can be saved and reused — string, plastic or glass containers, gift wrap, shopping bags. If there are things you can't use, consider giving them to others who can. 

  • Donate unwanted items: Charitable groups, local churches, and women’s shelters often need clothing and household items. Some daycares/preschools/kindergartens accept materials like thread spools, small jars, paper, old calendars and magazines, etc. for their craft centres  

  • Buy used items. 

  • Repair broken toys, furniture, and appliances to extend their useful life. 

  • Websites like Kijiji have become essential for selling / giving things away. We recommend Kijiji frequently, particularly for odd items that don’t have obvious options. 

  • Refill bottles and other containers. The same container can be used more than once for many different things. 

  • Dismantle objects into individual components for recycling or reuse. 


Recycling requires materials to be re-processed and uses resources to do so, making it less environmentally effective than reducing or reusing. Many items can be recycled in Saskatchewan.  Check out our database to check out options in your community. 

Additional Tips:


Consider starting a backyard compost with your kitchen and yard waste (vegetable trimmings, banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, leaves, grass clippings, etc.) You will reduce your garbage by over one-third and will produce an excellent soil conditioner for your garden. See our composting page for information on how to start composting. 


Advertisers would have us believe that our busy lives demand items that we use once and throw away. But disposables have time costs too. You have to go and buy more things to replace all the ones you’ve thrown away and you have more garbage to take out. Even if you recycle, disposable items will have more packaging because each item is used only once. Most disposable items have a reusable counterpart -- washable floor pads for Swiffer-type mops, reusable coffee filters, cloth towels, razors that only replace the blade... they’re out there and they reduce a lot of waste. Whenever you can, look for non-disposable options. Avoid paper towels, plates and cups, throw-away lighters and razors, and disposable diapers. Purchase the multi-use alternatives instead. 

Packaging Watchdog 

  • Buy fruits and vegetables "loose" rather than in a plastic-covered tray.  

  • Pencils and pens are examples of items that can be purchased "loose" at stationary stores, rather than in a bubble pack at the corner store. 

  • Buy larger sized packages of regularly used items. Buying two small jars of peanut butter creates more recyclables than one large jar. Buy a large container of juice and send single servings in a thermos for school lunches. 

  • Consider reducing or eliminating your purchase of disposable fast food packaging. 

  • Reuse plastic bags or containers from home for produce and bulk items. 

  • Avoid packaging made with two or more different materials, such as juice containers made of a paper laminated with plastic or foil. 

  • Ask store clerks not to double bag your purchases. Better yet, bring your own shopping bags to the store. 

Constructive Nuisance  

Manufacturers and retailers are sensitive to consumers' preferences. Write to the company and let them know you are rejecting a product because it is environmentally inappropriate.