Precycling Your Troubles Away

By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Precycle.  Stop needless consumption.

Adam Shake with Twilight Earth describes precycling as “the act of ‘not purchasing’ something that would otherwise be recycled or thrown into a landfill.”  It’s a fancy, more compelling word for reducing your consumption.  Remember our mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Now let’s kick it up a notch: Reduce/Precycle, Reuse, Recycle.  Very catchy.

For many people this decision has been taken out of their hands.  Due to the current economic situation most people do not have a lot of disposable income to spend frivolously.  But we do have a choice:  We can continue to complain about the world’s economic bleakness and blame anyone who seems culpable, or we can embrace this great opportunity we now have to stop and think about how we spend our money.  Some ideas for precycling:

Buy used stuff

Sports equipment, workout equipment, consignment/thrift store clothes, used cars.  There are local shops all of the country that resell anything and everything.  Also, take a look at

Buy local and organic

This has become a priority in our home, not only for the sustainability but for the health benefits.  The more I research conventionally processed foods, I find they’re becoming more and more devoid of nutrition.  But not only are our nutritional needs being shortchanged, we’re getting a lot of things that are making us unhealthy.  From the  irradiation of produce and meat, pesticides, herbicides, GMO’s, mercury and who knows what else is allowed to be put in our food in the name of keeping us “safe,” our food supply is slowly killing us.

Meanwhile, it takes connections to the CIA to find and purchase healthy raw milk products in my state.  Thankfully, I can always rely on the Eat Well Guide and Sustainable Table to help me find good food. 

I’m not telling you to stop buying stuff.  I am imploring you to stop and think about the stuff you’re buying.  Do you need that 10-pack of paper towels or could you use and reuse a nice set of dish towels?  Do you need a case of bottled water or could you use a filter for your tap water?  Do you need a brand new Lexus or could you outfit my home with solar panels?  OK, maybe that last one is a stretch…

Be Thoughtful.  Be Green.

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  1. wiredtoinspire’s avatar

    Nice, simple post. It’s cool that you mentioned Freecycle . . . great ideas.

  2. Paul @ Green Pepper’s avatar

    Great article, Wendy! At Green Pepper we’re passionate about reducing consumption (the act of not purchasing) and reusing what we already have. Our readers have contributed lots of useful tips to the discussions. And if you’ve not seen the Story of Stuff yet, you should check it out. It’ll change your life forever!

  3. Leslie’s avatar

    Great post! I don’t think the last one is a stretch at all! I fully and completely agree with you and it’s actually one of my Green Visions for 2009- to really look at what I’m buying and make eco sense of it. Nice site, btw! My first visit here. 🙂

  4. Wendy Gabriel’s avatar

    I’m glad you like the site… come back often!!!


  5. CiaraCiara’s avatar

    Great post and super ways to help the environment. The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice also works with different ways to help. Right now there is a green cleaning supplies campaign that CHEJ is working on. On Friday February 13, 2009, CHEJ will hold a Valentine’s National Day of Action to raise awareness of the importance of green cleaning in schools. Check out the site to learn more and download a free action toolkit! Spread the word!

  6. NeerySorlepay’s avatar

    Create pure drinking water with our Atmospheric Water Generators

  7. SavvyChristine’s avatar

    I’m not sure what you mean about spending “frivolously.” It’s not terribly difficult to precycle — for example, at the grocery store when buying produce. Just don’t take those single-use produce bags. Put the produce directly into your cart. You were going to wash it when you got home anyway, right?

    And not only that, but by moving away from pre-packaged foods and things with hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, you naturally move towards the produce section anyway.

    Thanks for the great post!

  8. Synge’s avatar

    Love your site, but I keep getting stuck when you talk about your meat, fish, and dairy products. Meat products are NOT green. 28% of greenhouse gasses produced in the US are from ruminating livestock (cattle). A pound of fruits or vegetables is a pound of food, but it takes 7-10 pounds of plant-based food to make a pound of beef. It takes 1000+ gallons of fresh water to produce a pound of beef, if you take into account the water needed both for the animal and irrigated land for the animal’s feed. Your blog keeps mentioning sustainability. If everyone on the planet at the amount of meat and dairy Americans did, the planet would be stripped clean. Already we’ve outstripped west-coast salmon stocks, so their fisheries are collapsed now. You object to food irradiation, but most food poisioning (and some human diseases such as the swine and avian flu) all trace back to livestock farming; we wouldn’t have to be so scared of our food if we didn’t produce the billions of pounds of pathogen-rich animal excrement each year. Did you know swine farms can have 5,000 hogs but not need to treat their sewage? That run-off is on our produce, in our wells, and in the rivers/streams our kids swim in. Please consider promoting a low or no meat/dairy lifestyle at part of your site’s complete green lifestyle. Thank you.


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