Social Lab
3 min readSep 23, 2021

Solid waste management (SWM) has become a critical issue for Indian cities due to the increasing amount of wastes, space constraints for waste disposal, and their adverse environmental and health impacts. Therefore, developing a sustainable solid waste management system is of utmost importance. In this pursuit, the action should be undertaken at all levels including the individual, institution, industry, and the government. Notably, individual actions are most influential since they have the potential to bring societal transformation. On this note, the 3-R (reduce, reuse & recycle) principle should serve as a guiding tool which is pictorially represented below.

3R principal- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle pyramid by social lab
3-R principle pyramid

Aligned with this principle, the waste reduction should be regarded as the first preferred option for waste management followed by waste reuse and waste recycling. Waste reduction helps to reduce the burden on waste collection and processing infrastructure and minimizes the adverse environmental and health impacts of wastes. Having stated so, it is interesting to know how we can reduce our wastes. As a first stage, we should avoid buying, however, if we genuinely require new products, we should opt for ‘sustainable buying’. The present article provides the approach to avoid buying through a decision-making tree and simple lifestyle changes. In our next article, we shall delve into the approach to ‘sustainable shopping’.

Approach to avoid buying

Most importantly, we should ascertain the real need for a new product using the decision-making tree depicted below. It essentially builds upon a set of questions asking us to introspect whether we can use the existing product a little longer or if not, repair the product or borrow it from friends or colleagues. Next, we should explore the option of renting the product from a shop. However, if nothing works out, we should wait for some time to eliminate the buying impulse. For example, the 30-Day Rule may be followed wherein we should wait for 30 days after deciding to buy a new product. Lastly, if we feel that a new product is genuinely required, we should buy it in an eco-friendly manner.

decision making tree to avoid extra buying and reduce waste by social lab
Decision-making tree: Avoid buying

Additionally, we should make small lifestyle changes to reduce the need of buying new products. We should develop the habit of sharing things like books, magazines, and newspapers between friends and neighbors. Other simple measures such as carrying our water bottle during travel, packing our lunch and avoiding food waste shall help us to avoid the need of buying. Besides, growing your own food such as vegetables & fruits in the kitchen garden plays an important role in eliminating the packaging, energy consumption, and emissions associated with the transportation of food .


There is an urgent need to transform the existing linear waste management system into a circular system considering the severe environmental and health consequences. In this transition, we can contribute by avoiding the purchase of new products and consequently reducing the amount of wastes generated. For this purpose, we should diligently evaluate the need of buying a new product using the decision-making tree. Besides, we should make small lifestyle changes which would help us to reduce the need of buying new products.

Contributed By- Anirudha Pandav, Manager at Social Lab

Social Lab Environmental Solutions is a waste management company, which helps brands take-back and scientifically dispose of post-consumer plastic waste of their products. Brands take our services to fulfill Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligation under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2018.

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Social Lab

We are a waste management company, which helps brands take-back and scientifically dispose of post-consumer plastic waste of their products.