To achieve the District’s goal of zero waste, extra effort and increased emphasis will have to be placed on the first of the 3 R’s – Reduce! What can you do to limit the amount of waste in our landfills, streets, waterways, and oceans? Recycling saves energy and resources, but reducing is even better.
Shop Resale - Secondhand, Thrift, & Consignment
Shopping for pre-owned goods at secondhand, thrift and consignment shops gives these items a new life and keeps durable goods out of the trash.
Buy Recycled School Supplies
Help to close the loop by buying products made from recycled content. Paper, pens, markers, folders, and more can be made from recycled paper or plastic. Look for "made from recycled content" on the packaging.
- See DC’s Sustainable Office Supplies Specification for more detailed recycled content recommendations by product type.
Pack a Zero Waste Lunch
Use reusable containers to pack lunches to eliminate or reduce packaging waste.
To get started, see these tips for packing a zero-waste lunch.
It’s easy to rescue good food in your cafeteria from being wasted. Collect whole and unopened items, then partner with a local hunger organization to donate.
- Read about schools that are fighting community hunger by donating leftovers from their cafeterias.
- Allow students to choose what they want to eat by implementing Offer vs. Serve in your cafeteria. Review OSSE's Offer vs. Serve Guidance.
- Take a look at the USDA's guide to preventing wasted food.
- Check out the DC Food Recovery Working Group's website or contact DGS for more ideas.
- Visit here for a list of organizations that accept food donations.
- Consider including food reduction and donation requirements in school food services contracts. Visit here to read DC’s recommended requirements.
Donate Unwanted Furniture
Does your school have furniture that you no longer need but that can easily be reused? Don’t dump!
- Donate, exchange, or sell office furniture or electronic equipment to give items a second life. Visit here for the reuse directory.
- Need Furniture? Consider purchasing pre-owned office furniture and equipment. DC Government makes surplus items available through an online auction. Click here for DC Surplus Inventory.
DC Reduce First Challenge
Take part in a DC Reduce First Challenge! Each spring, all schools across the District are invited to compete against one another to reduce one of their waste streams. This school year (2017-2018), the schools will work to reduce plastic waste.
Don't have time to participate during the spring? You can do these challenges at any time on your own!