Low Waste Living

Low waste living is exactly what it sounds like -- living a life that produces as little waste as possible. Many people link this concept to the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. However, we have found that low waste living takes a few more R’s:

Rethink – Is this item useful? Is it durable? Is it serving more than one purpose? When you’re shopping, make sure that any new items you choose have been carefully considered. Go through your house and see what you have and decide if things are still useful or wanted.

Refuse – Learn to say NO. Try to make a habit of saying “No, thank you” to things like unnecessary straws, plastic bags, receipts, extra napkins, and SWAG (Stuff We All Get). Refusing avoids things that will likely become clutter or live a very short life before they end up in the garbage.

Reduce (one of the original R’s, yes, but it bears repeating) - Buying less, or avoiding some things altogether, uses the fewest resources and removes the need to seek end-of-life options. Not browsing in stores and simplifying your lifestyle are great places to start.

Repair or Refurbish – Fix things! Pick up a new repair hobby or support a local repair business.

Repurpose or Re-gift – Is that cracked mug a perfect pen holder for your desk? Would that sweater look great on your friend? If it is not for you anymore, look at it from another angle.

Rent or Share – Once you own it, it is yours, along with the responsibility for its end of life. By renting or sharing items, you are allowing them to be more useful than just sitting in your closet.

Rot – Organic material that goes to landfill creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Composting is a good way to avoid this process. You can compost at home, or many communities have pick-up services. Check out our compost page for more information. 

For examples and advice on low waste living, check out our blog: “Waste Reduction: How Low Can You Go?”.

There are many ways that you can change behaviour to create less waste. To learn more about sustainable ways of living:

Blue Daisi
Zero Waste Chef

Wild Minimalist

Wasteland Rebel

Other resources:
The Story of STUFF

The Minimalists

National Zero Waste Council

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation


David Suzuki Foundation


Buyerarchy - June 26, 2015

The 9R Framework. - Adapted from Potting et al. (2017, p.5)