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Think before you buy

How to Say No to Packaging

Vote with your dollars. When comparing products of different manufacturers, consider giving preference to those that use less packaging.


Buy food in large quantities or in bulk. Grains and cereal are especially easy to purchase this way. Avoiding small individual packages of any product or consumable greatly reduces the amount of paper or boxboard that you buy and throw away. Of course, don't buy large quantities if the food would spoil before it is used.

Try these local places for minimum packaging:


  • The Refillery,  853 Lincoln Way

  • Bodega Grocery Store, 937 Lincoln Way

  • Save Mart,  386 Elm Ave. 

  • Just down the hill at REI in Roseville, there is a TerraCycle box where you can recycle all food packaging.

Say no to Unwanted Mail

Fight back! You can reduce the amount of junk mail you receive.

Until you get off jumk mail lists, be sure to recycle all the paper. Tear off all plastic windows first.

Substitute Reusable Items for Consumables

Here are some suggestions:

Use towels, rags, and sponges for most cleaning and wipe-ups. Keep a large enough supply of rags and wash cloths so you will always have some clean ones. Even if you need to buy a supply of small towels and wash cloths to get yourself started, the initial cost will be quickly offset by your reduced need to buy disposable substitutes, and you might think they work better than disposables. If you frequently need a damp rag or wash cloth close at hand, just find an ordinary old plastic bottle or old spray bottle and fill it with your own home-made cleaning solution. You could mix up a mild cleaner of one part vinegar to seven parts water, or something much stronger with diluted alcohol, bleach, or ammonia. (Do not mix bleach and ammonia. The combination creates an asphyxiating gas.)


Use cloth napkins. Buy a large supply of inexpensive cotton napkins to use every day, the initial cost will be quickly offset by your reduced need to buy disposable paper substitutes.


Are you still collecting bags every time you shop? STOP! California voters approved the statewide Single-Use Carryout Bag Ban in November 2016. Since then most stores have been unable to provide single-use plastic carry-out bags. Instead of paying the state-mandated 10 cent fee for each paper bag, invest in a set of reusable shopping bags and use them. Regardless of whether plastic bags are utilized or not, the better option is always reusable cloth bags.

Reusable cloth bags hold more, they make carrying heavy loads much easier, they hold larger volumes than most plastic bags, they protect glass jars and bottles better, they last seemingly forever (expect well over 15 years from cloth grocery bags), they save energy and resources, and they prevent litter. Even if you recycle your paper or plastic grocery bags, you consume some energy and resources.


Collect and use leftover glass jars as food storage containers. They are more durable than plastic bags, leak less, reduce odors in the refrigerator, and keep moths out of dry goods in the cupboard. Best of all, you will be practicing reuse!

Invest in rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. You can run almost anything, from flashlights to digital cameras, with rechargeable batteries. In the long run it is cheaper and better for the environment. For more information on recycling and proper disposal of batteries, please visit Recycology.

reduce what you use

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