Our air, our water and our earth are dependent on our
understanding and being able to execute this very simple phrase in the order it was created; reduce, reuse, and recycle. It is amazing and great to see the amount of recycle bins and their contents by the side of the road in our community. What may be overlooked however is the fact that there are two previous things that must be done before we kick our recyclables to the curb. There is a reason that the expression goes REDUCE, REUSE, and then RECYCLE. By carrying out this task in this manner, the least amount of stuff will need to be placed in the big "blue box". Recycling is good, but it needs to be the absolute last resort. And for it to be successful it is important that when you do buy things, that you are certain to buy them with post consumer recycled content. When you do so you are completing the cycle.
Tips on the three Rs in the order to best serve the earth
Reduce means that you are consuming less. To be more precise you would consume fewer products that exhaust our resources, or negatively impact our environment during their production.
- Buy long lasting, durable products made from sustainable materials
- Buy only what you need
- Buy in bulk, bringing your own bulk bags and containers
Reuse means giving a longer life to something even if you are done with it in its original state.
- Exchange, trade, donate or sell items that are no longer useful
- Repair what may be broken rather than buying a replacement
- Buy second hand goods, from garage sales or second hand stores
- Share occasionally used items with others who might need them
- Repurpose what you have into something else you need
Recycle means that the product is no longer useful in its original form, and can now be turned into something new. Paper products are notorious and one of the most common items to make their way to the curb, what is important to remember is when you are buying paper goods with post consumer recycled content you are completing the cycle and creating a need for goods to be recycled.
- Follow your local guidelines on recycling.
- Sort your goods as necessary.
- Avoid putting soiled or greasy items into the recycling, it can contaminate other recyclables
- Buy or use products that are made from post consumer recycled content.
Pre-cycling is a variation of recycling by which the items are re-purposed just before they head to the recycle bin, pretty similar to reusing something, with another twist.
Every one of these actions can support our health and our environment by putting less of a demand on our natural resources and by producing less pollution at the production and the manufacturing level.