Waste prevention behaviours

This section introduces ways in which to effectively encourage householders to enact waste prevention behaviours.

Unlike recycling, waste prevention is a relatively "unseen" behaviour which is performed mainly in the privacy of our own home. 

It is also a personal behaviour, often misunderstood, and is driven by deeply held beliefs and attitudes. This makes it difficult to understand and establish it as a mainstream behaviour – compared to behaviours that people can see and copy (like recycling). 

That said, there are some waste prevention behaviours that are more "visible" because they are undertaken outside of our home and often involve others. The more visible the behaviour, the more likelihood there is of engaging more people and encouraging others to participate – creating a social norm.

Waste prevention behaviours that are undertaken in our home like avoiding unwanted mail and reusing items are less visible. Whereas behaviours that take place outside of our home, such as shopping and participating in community activities, such as swap days, are more visible.

Understanding which waste prevention behaviours are more or less visible is important in deciding how to target householders more effectively. For those less visible behaviours, the emphasis should be on drawing out these behaviours through, for example, public commitments and pledges.

Waste prevention behaviours

Waste prevention behaviours can be one-off behaviours whilst others are repetitive and need to reinforced.

Examples of behaviours that are either one-off or need replacing or reminding of (over a long period of time) include:

  • buying long life light bulbs
  • using rechargeable batteries
  • buying more durable/long lasting goods, avoiding disposables and single use items 
  • registering with the Mail Preference Service

Examples of behaviours that are repetitive (and need reinforcement) include:

  • re-using own shopping bags
  • avoiding joining new mailing lists
  • avoiding over-packaged goods
  • hiring equipment rather than buying
  • using a refillable service
  • donating to (and using) charities
  • using local libraries
  • sharing appliances
  • making small changes in the home such as re-using glass jars