Waste reduction - waste prevention – is a simple concept. If we create less waste, we use fewer resources and don't have to spend as much money to recycle or dispose of our waste. We conserve natural resources and save money by decreasing the materials or products needed.
By rethinking, reducing, and reusing, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Visit our Re+ (zero waste) page to learn more about zero waste of resources.
Examples of reducing waste include:
- buying products with no packaging or less packaging
- making double-sided copies
- avoiding food waste by eating the food we select for lunch
Examples of reuse include:
- replacing single-use trays with durable trays that are washed and reused
- replacing single-use milk cartons with milk dispensers and durable cups
Follow the best practices in the Waste Reduction and Recycling Best Practices Guide.
- Download this guide to conducting a zero waste cleanout and swap day.
- Download this guide to school hydration stations for refillable bottles.
- Find reuse and recycling options for a variety of materials using the King County What do I do with…? website
Classrooms and offices
- Ideas for reducing junk mail
- Print our Good On One Side (Goos) sign to set up a paper reuse tray and invite students and staff to reuse paper.
Cafeteria, kitchen, and breakrooms
- Reducing food waste in schools
Find information about food share tables, food donation, and more.
- Pack a waste-free lunch
Waste-free lunch activities by the EPA to help students learn how to reduce, reuse, and recycle items in their school lunches.
- Alternatives for polystyrene lunch trays
Download our fact sheet to find ideas for switching to reusable or compostable trays
- School service ware resources by Plastic Free Restaurants
Toolkit for schools to switch from disposable service ware. Email Plastic Free Restaurants to ask about subsidies for schools to switch to reusable products.
- Durable utensils in school cafeterias
Strategies for successfully switching to durable utensils
- Examples of schools reducing, reusing, and recycling trays
- Watch this short video created by Crystal Springs Elementary School (Northshore School District) on how to prevent waste.