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Waste Prevention - Prevent Waste In The First Place

Illustraiton of Waste prevention - prevent waste in the first place! logo.

What is waste prevention?

Waste prevention, also known as source reduction, is an effort to decrease the amount of waste produced. The best way to reduce waste is not to create it in the first place. If waste is prevented, there is no need or cost for collection, processing, and disposal.

Why is waste prevention important?

By practicing waste prevention, essentially using less stuff, you are protecting the environment by conserving natural resources, extending landfill life, and saving energy. Waste prevention also saves taxpayers money because Baltimore County doesn’t have to pay for collection, processing, or disposal.

There are only a few options for handling solid waste, as shown in the solid waste management hierarchy diagram below. Each of these options is ranked, with the most preferable option at the top. Waste prevention and reuse is the most preferred method for managing solid waste, followed by recycling. As indicated, landfilling and incineration without energy recovery are the least preferable options for handling solid waste.

Solid waste management disposal hierarchy.

What are some waste prevention tips? 

  • Use both sides of a piece of paper.
  • Choose products that use little or no packaging.
  • Purchase items in bulk (rather than individual packages), when possible.
  • Use refillable containers of detergent, soap, fabric softener, etc.
  • Use washable cloth towels instead of paper towels.
  • Utilize reusable containers for carrying lunch and storing leftover food.
  • Use cleaning products from concentrate, or make your own items from components you already have around the house (for example, making dust rags from old t-shirts or using baking soda as a cleaning agent).
  • Contact specific direct marketing businesses, credit bureaus, and other sources of “junk mail” and ask to be removed from their mailing lists. 

More waste prevention information can be found at

Revised May 11, 2012


Revised April 6, 2016        

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