Tips for General Waste Prevention

Simple behavior changes and personal consumer choices can significantly impact how much waste and potential litter each of us produces. Read below for tips on how you can easily reduce waste, conserve our natural resources and prevent pollution. Food service providers can find helpful tips on our Workplace Waste Prevention page.

  1. Reusable BagChoose reusables
    • Opt for products you can use multiple times rather than single-use disposables
    • Carry reusable cloth totes/bags with you to the store; single-use bags are often disposed of as trash and find their way into creeks, rivers, oceans and highways as unsightly and harmful litter
      • Milpitas residents can call the Reuse Line at 408-586-2680 to request a compact, travel-friendly reusable shopping bag (leave your full name and address; limit 1 bag per household while supplies last)
    • Carry a reusable travel thermos or mug with safety lid for your coffee. If you ask, some coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own cup
    • Carry a reusable water bottle and/or or keep a mug with you. This helps conserve natural resources and reduce the amount of disposable paper, plastic and polystyrene cups in our landfills
    • Opt for reusable, heat-safe food ware and beverage containers for meals. Nowadays, there are are many travel-friendly food ware sets out there from which to choose
    • Businesses and schools can adopt a green purchasing program or environmentally preferable purchasing policy to ensure responsible purchasing practices
  2. Choose used products. If you need something that will be used infrequently, such as a power tool or party decorations, see if you can borrow or rent it instead of buying it. For other items, consider visiting thrift stores or swap meets, browsing online classifieds websites such as Craigslist or trading with friends
  3. Assemble a "party pack" that can be used in the home, office and schools. This is essentially a storage tub filled with a complete set of reusable party items that can be adjusted based on specific needs. In schools/offices, you can have "waste prevention champions" or "green teams" composed of parent/employee volunteers who clean or assist students/employees in cleaning the party pack before it is returned. Party pack contents can include:
    • Cloth napkins and tablecloths
    • Eco-friendly decorations
    • Durable plates, cups and utensils (made of sustainably-sourced or post-consumer recycled content)
  4. Have proper signage for all waste stations/areas. This not only helps people easily sort their waste, but it also ensures that recyclable and compostable items don't end up in our landfills
  5. Patronize green-certified businesses. The Bay Area Green Business Program certifies companies that meet the program's standards for environmental responsibility
    • If you're looking to hire someone to design or maintain your yard or garden, choose a Bay-Friendly Qualified Landscape Professional
    • If you need help with a home remodeling project, hire a Certified Green Building Professional
  6. Give the gift of memorable experiences during the holidays and for special occasions. Between Thanksgiving and New Years, it's estimated that our trash increases by an extra 1 million tons per week. Gifting those you love with e-tickets to a sporting event or concert, museum membership, or a flower/plant instead of disposable items will significantly reduce waste
  7. Cancel unwanted subscriptions and opt out of junk-mail
  8. Don't trash it, donate it. Find new life for the following (that are still in good shape)
    • Unwanted furnishings
    • Books
    • Toys
    • Appliances
    • Office supplies
    • Clothes
    • Instead of sending these goods to the landfill, donate them to secondhand stores, non-profit organizations, local churches or schools that accept used items

In Your Home

Many of the following practices can also be modified and adopted in school and office settings as well:

  1. Visit the Save Water Milpitas websitePrioritize energy and water efficiency
    • Track water and energy usage
    • Regularly check for, report and repair leaks
    • Conduct regular maintenance on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration systems
    • Opt for appliances like LED light bulbs, high efficiency dishwashers and clothes washers, and low-flow shower heads/toilets coupled with faucet aerators
    • Residents are welcome to request for low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators at the Milpitas City Hall front counter or by calling 408-586-2666
  2. Opt for non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products and methods. Use substitute cleaning products with basic ingredients like baking soda, borax and white distilled vinegar whenever possible; these actions will reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals in your home/office/classroom
  3. Opt for a broom or towel instead of a can of toxic bug spray. Good housekeeping (e.g., cleaning up crumbs and spills immediately) and proper maintenance of your home is the best way to prevent pests from entering your space; if your living/work area or garden have pests, visit Our Water Our World for less toxic pest management tips
  4. Buy the right amount of paint. Thinking of starting a painting project? First, calculate the area (height times width = total square feet) so that you can buy the right amount of paint for the job. 1 gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet. You can prevent paint from drying out by covering the paint can with plastic wrap, replacing the lid securely and storing the can upside down. Use leftover paint for touch-up jobs, smaller projects or as a primer
  5. Consider composting and eco-friendly landscaping designs. Visit our Composting and Eco Gardens page to learn more. Covert your water-thirsty lawn to a drought-tolerant garden-simply layer cardboard and mulch right on top of the grass, and then plant your new garden straight into the mulch