Pollution Prevention Fact Sheets

Pollution Prevention and You While Shopping

Pollution prevention, also known as P2, happens when people change their plans, practices and habits in order to reduce the generation of pollution and waste at the source, instead of trying to clean it up after the fact. Pollution prevention also includes activities that protect natural resources (i.e. trees, water) through conservation or more efficient use of resources.

The key to environmental sustainability is thinking globally and acting locally. Pollution prevention is about making smart choices - both in what we buy and in how we use products. It involves looking at the causes of waste and pollution and figuring out how to prevent them.


Eco-shopping means choosing products that emphasize the reduction of waste and pollution. The less you purchase, the less waste and pollution you create, and the less energy and resources you consume. Buying only what you need is a great way to help the environment and save money. Practicing pollution prevention as a consumer can make a difference in achieving a greener marketplace.

Waste not

  • Don't buy more than you really need. Purchase quantities that you will be able to use completely. This way you save money and don't have to dispose of unused portions.
  • Buy only what you need. Stay away from trendy items which may be quickly discarded.
  • Avoid buying products with excessive packaging.
  • Buy products in bulk (instead of overpackaged small sizes) and store them in re-usable containers and jars.
  • Buy products that are well made and durable to avoid having to discard relatively new or malfunctioning items.

Be consumer wise

  • Look for products that have the EcoLogo™. This label verifies that the product is "best in class" environmentally - and has less impact on the environment through its entire lifecycle than other non-labelled products.
  • Look for products that have been manufactured with a high content of recycled materials.
  • Study product labels to identify nonhazardous or less hazardous products.
  • Re-use plastic grocery bags the next time you go shopping instead of bringing new ones home. Better yet, buy or make cloth shopping bags that can be used time and time again.
  • When possible, buy beverages in reusable, returnable, or recyclable containers.
  • Purchase organically grown foods, in order to discourage the use of pesticides and support farmers who practice environmentally friendly farming.
  • Find out if your photographic supplier recycles or re-uses chemicals and reclaims metal from the development process. If not, encourage the supplier to do so.
  • Ask if your photographic supplier recycles or re-uses the plastic components of disposable cameras. If not, encourage the supplier to do so.
  • Use a dry cleaner that offers "Green Cleaning."
  • Purchase alkaline or rechargeable batteries. Ensure that all batteries are properly disposed of when they no longer work.
  • Support manufacturers of electronic equipment and furniture that take tradeins for reuse or recycling.

Want to know more?

Visit the Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse for additional sources of pollution prevention information.