I've blogged about reducing waste by considering the packaging and the life of a product a couple of times, including here. It turns out that someone else has given such an approach to shopping a name: precycling.
It would be great if "precycle" became a word we hear even more frequently than recycle. Recycling is a good idea, but not having things to recycle means less energy is used in producing and cleaning up products. For some ideas about how to start precycling, click on this article from Earth911.