Reduce, Reuse, Recycle the lost and forgotten R's.
Let's discuss reducing and reusing the often forgotten or overlooked R's in this powerful trio. In our busy world, and most out of good intention, we lean straight on the recycling bin and the 3rd R as the best and most convenient means of contributing to the cause.
The first two are often overlooked or aren't options; then, straight to your
recycling bin, it is. There is a feel-good when placing an item into that
recycling bin. We all have felt it, and we all know the feeling.
- I am helping the planet!
- I am keeping recyclables out of the landfill and reducing waste.
- I am doing my part in sustaining our mother earth for our future generations.
All excellent feel-good thoughts and intentions, but there's a common misconception in using curbside recycling that this disposal method prevents plastic and other recyclable items from entering our landfills forever.
Bringing Back the R's-REDUCE
Reduce should not be lost and forgotten. Lowering Your consumption should be the initial priority. Convenience and less work (No one likes the L word "LAZY") is a way of life for many; however, the next time you consider using all plastic wear instead of washing dishes for a gathering, consider the small yet crucial individual impact you could make if you choose the latter every time.
If you'd like to find out more about different kinds of plastics and recyclables and what to avoid, have a look at our Quick Guide to Recycling.
Bring Back the R's-REUSE
When we cannot lower our consumption, we ought to discover ways to reuse it. Instead of throwing away something that you don't want anymore, consider repurposing. The web is filled with ideas on how best to upcycle, so get inspired and utilize your thoughtfulness and imagination to transform trash into treasure!
More ways to get involved in case you have plastics or other garbage you can recycle by your regional recycling guidelines, see whether a company like TerraCycle will accept it. From cigarette butts and candy wrappers to electronics and fabrics, TerraCycle carries all kinds of hard-to-recycle materials and finds out ways to recycle, upcycle, and repurpose them to keep them out of the landfills. They have solutions for homes, schools, and companies alike. When we were kids, we were advised to cut back, reuse, and recycle. . .but what exactly does this mean? All recycling applications are unique and will differ from community to community; please be sure to check the guidelines from your regional authorities or recycling center to be sure that you're disposing of them correctly. This is essential because blending non-recyclable and recycled plastics may lead to contamination, sending recyclable materials straight to the landfill.
The term "reduce, reuse, recycle."
The term "reduce, reuse, recycle" was made in the mid-1970s when we began to become more conscious of our impact on our surroundings. Air pollution was dreadful. Water quality was worse. And while our ability to manage waste has improved some over previous decades, an attitude of "out of sight, out of mind" prevailed. Just 9 percent of all plastic produced was recycled. Even less has been recycled more than one time. There's a reason that "reduce, reuse, recycle" moves in this order. It goes in order of efficiency. Nevertheless, so much emphasis was placed on recycling as a final way to waste, which we have lost sight of the initial and most important R's: reducing and reusing.
Check out: The Story Behind the 3 R's
"And Lastly, if you have exhausted all those approaches….", then it is time to put it in the trash because landfilled waste is still better for the world than an environmental jumble. It's also important to note that some
things can't ever be recycled, not once. Plastic does not biodegrade or get absorbed back into the environment. This means it could sit in our landfills for countless years, in which it breaks apart into smaller and smaller bits called microplastics. That is why denying single-use plastic and reducing the number of plastics we consume is the single best way to keep plastic out of our landfills. Among the very best things you can do to lower your plastic footprint is to swap single-use plastics for sustainable and reusable alternatives.
And remember, "when in doubt, throw it out."