Small Step: Precycling

Written by Lisa
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Ok, you have started recycling or have stepped up your recycling and reuse of items.  The time has come for the next small step to make change in your environment - Precycling!  Precycling eliminates or reduces the need for recycling or use by consciously preventing waste before it happens.  Simply put - Thinking before consuming.

The easiest steps:

  • Take your own reusable carrier bags with you.  Nest them inside one another to carry easily.  Alternatively, carry a rucksack.
  • When making a purchase that is small, consider placing it in a pocket in your clothing or in a bag, you may already be carrying.
  • Combine as many trips out as possible into one and eliminate the number of times you use your car.  Better: Cycle or Walk.
  • Stop junk mail. In Belgium:  get the “no-publicity” sticker for your mail box at your commune; go to to cancel your phone books (gids/annuaire) ; add your name to the list on to avoid advertisement by mail 

Ramping up your steps a notch:

  • Determine if you really need a new item.  Can you share an infrequently used item with family, friends, or neighbors?  Could you advertise to hire the infrequently item out inexpensively to another person.  Could you start a neighborhood exchange club?  Can you buy the item second-hand somewhere?
  • If you do need a particular item, look for minimal packaging and packaging made from a high percentage or recyclable material.  Can you yourself recycle the packaging?  If not, look for alternative packaging.

This article was originally published in the February 2010 edition of the Sunbeams Newsletter.

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