Deciding to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

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Image by Mary Ann Enriquez / Creative Commons

When you talk to people about what steps they are taking to save the environment, or live a greener life, you will more than likely find out they are doing some sort of recycling. Recycling is a good thing in that it takes items which were headed for a landfill and instead, allows them to be broken down and used to make something new.

There is more than just recycling though. In reality there are three main parts to being an environmentally-friendly consumer. Yes, I’m talking about the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Recycle is the last in the line, probably because when you’ve already purchased an item, used it, have no further use for and don’t want to trash it, recycle is what you have left.

Reuse is the concept of taking an item which no longer has a use in its original form and turning it into something else of use. For example, taking old t-shirts and reusing them as cleaning rags, taking used bottles and turning them into small herb planters and more.

Reduce is the headliner here. In order to significantly cut down on the volume of waste we generate every year, (which is truly astounding), we need to start with reducing what we purchase in the first place.

There are so many things we can recycle or reuse, and yes we all should make the decision to do this. We have to get ourselves out of the frame of mind that when we are done with an item it can only go in the trash. But, in my opinion, if we can each move reduce to the top of our environmentally-friendly “to do” lists, we’d be better off.

Image by Rupert Ganzer / Creative Commons

When you start at the beginning, such as reducing what you purchase, then you will generate less waste and have less that needs to be reused or recycled. See how that works? So here are 3 simple ways you can reduce:

1) Instead of buying products that can only be used one time, buy reusable products. (You can even fit in a little reuse here, by using existing materials to make multi-use products.) This is a guaranteed way to not only save money, but prevent excessive waste.

Image by Project GreenBag / Creative Commons

2) Buying in bulk may be good for large families, but for smaller families or individuals, buying in bulk is probably not the way to go. Many times you don’t need volumes of food, and if you don’t need it, then why buy it? It is cheaper to go to smaller discount stores or local stores and buy only what you know you can eat.

Image by Cathy Stanley-Erickson / Creative Commons

3) Take a list when you go to the store. Whether you are going grocery shopping, to the hardware store, clothes shopping or any other kind of shopping, make a list first. One of the biggest ways people spend more money or buy things they don’t need is when they go shopping without a list of the items they NEED.

Image by John Blower / Creative Commons

If you have any special tips or ways you reduce, reuse and recycle, please share them in the comment section below. I love hearing about people’s great ideas for saving money and living smarter (aka greener).

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2 Comments

  1. I never thought about it that way. I do everything I can to recycle but never really thought about how many times I could have avoided the conundrum of recycling something I probably never REALLY needed in the first. I shudder to think the money I have wasted. The first thing I did was buy reusable bottles for water. That alone cut down my recycling bin by 90%. Thanks for the article and please keep it up. i will visit often.

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