5 R’s of Waste Reduction: Reduce

 become a zero waste campus by 2035Introducing the 5 R's of waste reduction

To start our countdown to Waste Week on campus this fall (starting October 15th), we are introducing the 5 R’s of waste reduction. This week’s topic is ‘Reduce’.

Did you know that the University is committed to becoming a zero waste campus by 2035? We are targeting a waste diversion rate of 90%, more than double our current diversion rate of 40%.

Why reduce?

The purpose of reducing is to use and buy less. This in turn reduces our waste, avoiding the unnecessary use of resources such as water, raw materials, and energy for manufacturing and transporting items. When we reduce our waste, there is less to manage, putting less pressure on waste management facilities and more importantly, our natural systems. The great thing about reducing is that when we reduce our resource consumption, we ultimately save money too!

Reducing your consumption of single-use products and unnecessary purchases can be integrated into your life both on and off campus. When was the last time you had an impulsive buy but regretted it a few days later or only used the product once? Give yourself at least a day or two to really consider whether you need to buy an item. Or, consider if you will use the item longer than 30 minutes. If not, is it worth the purchase?

Programs on campus

Here are a list of programs that can help you reduce your waste and save you money! 

  • Eco-Container: Purchase a reusable container for $5 and receive a 20 cent discount each time you use it. Exchange your used container for a token to get a clean container next time, and let Food Services do the dishes! This program is currently offered in CMH, REV and V1, and is coming to the new SLC expansion. For more information, visit the Food Services website. Fun fact: In the first 3 months of this program, we reduced single-use plastic waste by selling 6,200 reusable containers!
  • Lug-a-Mug: Most paper cups on campus can be put in Mixed Containers recycling bin, but reducing is always more effective than recycling! By bringing your own reusable coffee mug, save 20 cents at Food Services outlets and 10 cents at all franchise outlets on hot beverage purchases. Fun fact: Between January and November 2017, we eliminated 32,000 cups from the waste stream through this program!
  • Water bottle refills: Fill up your own water bottle at more than 60 refill stations across campus, using a reusable water bottle cuts down on single-use plastic. Visit the campus map to find the refill station nearest you.

Take the challenge

The first step to reducing your waste is figuring out where your waste is coming from! Every October, Waterloo challenges the campus community to take the Zero Waste Challenge. Stay tuned over the next week for announcements on the challenge and how to register.

Two recycling binsWant to get ready for the challenge or itching to start now? Here’s how:

  1. Collect all waste you produce for one week in a 500mL mason jar (or similar-sized container). Recycling and compost don't count!
  2. Look through your jar at the end of the week to see what kinds of items you're throwing out the most. Then, figure out if you can switch to a waste-free alternative!

If you find the challenge difficult, that's okay! The most important thing to remember it is progress over perfection. It's better to make a small change than no change at all, and small daily habit changes lead to big changes over time!

Follow us on the hashtags #ZeroWasteUW to stay in the loop leading up to #WasteWeekUW.