Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Zero Waste: Precycling

GreenMission The holidays are a time of joy and celebration, of getting together with family and friends and sharing the gifts of the season. This is also the most wasteful time of the year. In fact, North Americans produce 25% more waste during this time of year than any other, which equates to 25 million extra tons of garbage going to the landfill. The Whole Foods Market Green Mission Team has gathered our favorite tips to feature on this blog throughout the holidays to help us all reduce our load. We know our customers are some of the greenest folks around, so please share your tips with us too. Hopefully we'll help each other discover new and creative ways to live lighter on the planet this holiday season. Precycling From Wikipedia: "Precycling is the practice of reducing waste by attempting to avoid bringing into the home or business items which will generate waste." Good luck with THAT this time of year, right?! Well, let's break it down even more. According to Jim McConnell, Whole Foods Market supply specialist who works in our Rocky Mountain region, "Precycling relates to what one can do to eliminate waste or prevent using a 'disposable' item prior to using it. An example would be to drink water from a reusable bottle, rather than buy water in a plastic bottle-even if the bottle is recyclable. This saves unsustainable resources from being used to create the bottle; and it saves the resources needed to recycle it." We've already talked about cards, lights, and trees…if you apply the concept of precycling to gift tags, for example, this would be reusing holiday cards that you have already received as gift tags instead of buying them. Gift wrap is easy to precycle - we are going to talk about that in our next post though, so stay tuned. BetterBag3A good way to precycle is to look at the packaging of the gift you are about to buy. Is it reusable, or is it wrapped in plastic that will end up in the landfill? Or does the manufacturer care about the environment and it's wrapped in cardboard, or in something you can reuse, or better yet, not packaged at all? If you can get out and shop for gifts at a local store, you can avoid ordering gifts online that typically get shipped in boxes with Styrofoam peanuts that will just end up in your garage until the end of time. For all of you out there who want to learn more about precycling, here's a great book that I highly recommend: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. These guys take this to a whole new level. Says my friend Lee Kane, Whole Foods Market's North Atlantic Regional Green Mission Specialist: "In cradle to cradle terms, the answer is one of design; if everything was ultimately designed to become technical or biological nutrients at 'end-of-life' there would be no 'waste' to contend with." What are you going to precycle this holiday season?

Leave a reply

To provide feedback or ask a question about our company, a store or a product, please visit our Customer Service page.

For more information about posting comments to our blog, please see our Comment Posting Guidelines.



Sean says …

While I know that ordering things from Amazon is not always the most green option, they are doing some great things in the area of packaging. They offer certain products in what they term <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&amp;location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fhelp%2Fcustomer%2Fdisplay.html%3Fie%3DUTF8%26nodeId%3D200285450&amp;tag=artifrobot-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957" rel="nofollow">frustration free packaging</a>. Basically, they parter with manufacturers and get products in minimal packaging that are often shipping ready. This way the items can ship and reside in the same package and they don't have all the extra packaging you find in most all products these days. As a bonus you don't have to struggle with all those annoying twist ties or plastic molded things that just get everyone upset. Anyway, just one more small way to avoid excess packaging this holiday season.

Dennis Salazar says …

The idea of pre-cycling is an excellent one I agree with completely but let's face it, it is not always possible or practical, especially in the area of packaging. When pre-cycling is not a viable option, we strongly believe in buying and using packaging products with as much recycled content as possible, especially PCW. We also make sure everything we use is recyclable and we make sure to do so. Combined with a sincere effort to resuse everything possible, we can minimize our negative impact on the environment, especially during this holiday season. Dennis Salazar President/Founder Salazar Packaging, Inc.

Elyse Eisenberg says …

Tip: Check out products/companies that partner with Terracyle-- an innovative organization that makes new products out of used packaging. They really recycle! For instance, the cereal company Bear Naked works is one of their many partners-- http://creativedelites.com/2009/12/08/new-food-stuffs-tried-at-whole-foods-market-89-vanilla-almond-crunch-granola/

sheri says …

I use brown paper for wrapping paper that can be recycled and instead of ribbons I use yarn that I then knit into Christmas washcloths for gifts. I don't use gift tags but instead write in colorful ink on the brown paper. This year I am sending Christmas postcards instead of cards so they require no envelopes.

Mrs Green says …

What a brilliant topic; and one close to my heart. One of my favourite zero waste gifts is my time. Most of us are happy to find money to use to buy something for people, but often it's the 'time' gifts that have real meaning. By giving of ourselves (and it seems our most precious resource is our time in our fast-paced lives) we give so much more thought to our gift AND there is nothing for landfill at the end of it. For my neighbour, in her 80s and now living along, she loves company - so I will visit her and give her an hour or so of my attention and validation. For my friend who has three young kids and gets no space for herself, I'll baby sit so she can take a walk without having to worry. For my husband, I'm going to give him a full body massage. For my daughter, who is eight, we'll spend quality time together going for walks and doing crafty stuff... Thanks for the book recommendation; I've not read it.