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Waste Reduction
You are likely familiar with the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. How about the other two: Refuse and Rot? This page provides an overview of how you can use the five R’s to reduce waste and your impact on the environment.

The most effective way to reduce waste is to Refuse. Say “no thank you” to items produced to last a life time but are used once for a short period of time. Everyday examples include: straws; plastic lids and bags (including produce and snack bags); beverage containers; coffee cups, sleeves, and pods. Simply skip these single-use items or use your own reusable version.

When you cannot Refuse, then simply Reduce. Choose items with minimal or no packaging, such as bar soap or bulk food. You may have heard about the emphasis on reducing the amount of waste created by disposable plastics, such as water bottles and bags. Plastic items litter beaches and pollute oceans. Although convenient, plastics threaten our environment. You can easily reduce single-use water bottle waste by refilling a reusable water bottle. Reusing products will help you save money, reduce waste, and preserve valuable resources.

When you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, make sure to Recycle. This includes purchasing products made from recycled content. Look for items with “post-consumer” material to save the natural resources — trees, water, and energy — used to produce new products.

The final “R” — Rot — means creating a valuable resource from our food waste and organics. Recycle your fruit, vegetables, and yard trimmings into nutrients for your soil by home composting.

By using the five R’s you can save money and decrease waste. Landfills are compacted and covered up daily with little oxygen and moisture to break down and decompose waste. When items are landfilled they are preserved and last a long time. Keep valuable items out of the landfill and help San José achieve its Zero Waste goal.

Share how you reduce waste by posting a photo on social media with a #keepSJclean.
Use your head! Reuse and reduce waste.

Bottled Water Facts
  • Bottled water costs between 240 and 10,000 times more than tap water.1
  • In the United States, 80% of water bottles end up in landfills, even though they can be recycled.2
  • It takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one bottle of water than it does to fill it.3

Refuse, Reduce & Reuse
  • Skip single-use items. Some coffee shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup or mug.
  • Purchase rechargeable batteries, such as camera batteries that can be recharged through a USB.
  • Donate and shop at thrift stores for unique items.
  • Give the gift of an experience. Purchase restaurant gift cards; tickets to a play, concert, sporting event, Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, or the movies. You can also donate to a charity on someone’s behalf.
  • Use “share” programs for cars, bicycles, equipment, clothing, and more. Be part of the ever-popular shareable economy.
  • Opt out of junk and paper mail by signing up for Catalog Choice, e-billing, and e-statements.
  • Replace disposable food ware with reusable plates, cups, utensils, napkins, snack bags, etc. San José’s Bring Your Own Bag and Foam Food Container ordinances have helped reduce waste and litter. Replacing disposable products with reusable's works!          


1 World Wildlife Fund
2 National Geographic
3 Pacific Institute