“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Resources for Individuals and Households

Waste reduction and reuse lessen the negative environmental effects of our consumption even more than recycling – an ounce of waste prevention is worth a pound of cure!  The best ways to prevent waste are to reduce the amount of materials we use, and to reuse products to the fullest extent possible.

Tips to Make Less Waste

Simple ways to reduce the amount of waste you generate, and often save money, include:

  • Borrow or rent items such as tools and equipment instead of buying. 
  • Buy items with less packaging. For example, buy a block of cheese rather than individually wrapped slices.
  • Use reusable items instead of disposable when you can, including napkins, water bottles, travel mugs and straws; and bring silverware to work instead of using disposable utensils.
  • Buy durable products. Before you buy new, check repair histories and consumer ratings through consumer publications.
  • Buy upgradable computers and cell phones. If you can upgrade with a single component, you may save money.
  • Opt out of catalogs and junk mail for free at CatalogChoice.org
  • Opt out of credit card offers and insurance mailings for free at OptOutPrescreen.com
  • For $1, remove yourself from mailing lists by company or category at DMAChoice.org

Learn to Repair

Promote waste reduction through repair in your community. Learning how to prolong the life of our belongings can significantly reduce how much we dispose of.

  • How to start a repair clinic [pdf] - Learn how to organize a repair clinic, where people come together to learn how to fix things.
  • Resources for repair [pdf] - These resources can help you learn how to repair everything from clothing to laptop computers.
  • Maine Tool Library – This is a volunteer-run tool lending library in Portland.

Reuse

There are many resources to help you donate to, or shop for, secondhand goods. Some examples are listed here; check in your area for similar types of businesses and organizations, or start your own!

  • Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Threads of Hope – all operate resale stores in Maine and accept donations of used clothing and gently-used household items.  Goodwill also recycles textiles that are no longer wearable such as torn clothing and single shoes and socks.  Get a good deal at these stores, and donate your unwanted items to support their socially-responsible missions.
  • Swap, sell or buy through Uncle Henry’s, Maine Craigslist, and Maine Freecycle.
  • Alltech – (Portland and Bangor) donate or shop used assistive medical equipment. Check the website to see what items are available to purchase or accepted for donation.
  • Everyone's Resource Depot - Located in Farmington, companies donate unwanted goods so they are available for reuse by the public.
  • Furniture Friends (Portland) – This furniture bank in Portland distributes usable furniture that would have gone to the landfill to people in need.
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore - ReStores sell new and lightly used building materials, fixtures, furniture, appliances, tools, and other surplus items donated by individuals, contractors, and businesses to help fund the construction of Habitat homes. The stores are in Bangor, Ellsworth, Kennebunk, Portland, Rockport and Topsham.
  • Maine Housing & Building Materials Exchange – This business in Lisbon, Maine provides new and re-usable building materials at an affordable price.
  • PC's for Maine – A non-profit program that accepts computer donations and provides computers and information to increase access to computers to individuals, families, schools and other non-profits.

Sustainable Purchasing

Consumers can support sustainable production by buying products that are safer, healthier, and easier to recycle.

Maine DEP is providing this information as a courtesy, and does not recommend or endorse any particular organization or product.

For more information, contact Carole Cifrino at 207-486-8160