Precycling History


the art of smart shopping

Before RECYCLING.... There was PRECYCLING In the olden days, before the era of convenience packaging, folks had different shopping habits which were more friendly to the environment. Families bought groceries and supplies in bulk, they reused or repaired products rather than simply throwing them away. Precylcing is a return to the principles of conservation and waste reduction which were once very strong values.

So what is it? Precylcing is a process of making wise purchasing decisions in order to reduce the amount of waste that we generate.

Below are some suggestions for wise shopping:

Select products carefully At the store, consider the environmental impact of each purchase that you make. What is the product made of? Can it be reused or recycled? Is there a better alternative product or packaging of it? Ask yourself if the product is worth a higher garbage bill or a more polluted environment?

Be picky about packaging At the store, reach for the product packaged in recyclable materials, such as paper, cardboard, glass, and aluminum, rather than plastic. Ask for paper bags, not plastic, or better yet, bring your own bag to the store. Look for the recylcing symbol on packages, indicating that the package is recyclable, or made from recycled materials.

Overcome overpackaging If the packaging isn't necessary to protect the product, or if it's just there to catch your eye, buy the less-packaged alternative.

Avoid disposables Don't buy products manufactured purposely for automatic disposal such as razors, lighters, plastic plates, etc.

Don't use polystrene foam (styrofoam) Vow not to buy it, whenever possible. Ask for paper packaging in take-out restaurants. If you are a regular coffee take-out patron, bring your own thermos or cup.

Buy in bulk Avoid overpackaging and save money, too. Bring your own container with you to the store. Store brands and generic foods are often less packaged than others.

Speak up Talk to store managers about your product and packaging preferences. Patronize businesses that offer recyclable products, less packaging, and the choice to buy in bulk. Write or call your state and federal officials to lend support to legislation that favors recycling and reduces unnecessary and non-recyclable packaging.

Reuse things When you no longer need clothing or household items, share them with a neighbor or consider giving them to charity. Reuse plastic containers for food storage, dog dishes, etc. Reuse paper for scratch pads etc. See how creative you can be in discovering a second use for most of your trash.

Repair things, don't discard them By patronizing neighborhood repair shops, you'll help the local economy.

Select Quality Buy durable long wearing products.

Teach children to precycle Children may be highly susceptible targets for the lure of overpackaged goods, but they're quick learners and we can teach them to do it right from the start.

So lets revive an old tradition... PRECYCLE !

Article produced by Cynthia Jobe, UWEX/Columbia County Resource Development Agent

Thank you for your help in making Columbia County one of Wisconsin's recycling leaders.

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle