What’s Even Better Than Recycling?
We hear a lot about the importance of recycling—and with good reason. It helps to reduce the amount of trash we send to our landfills and conserves natural resources.
However, it’s important to remember that there are two other Rs—reduce and reuse—which are even more effective ways to protect our environment. Read on to learn more.
What’s at Stake?
Take a look at the products you use every day. By understanding their entire life cycle, you can learn more about their total impact on the environment. From extracting raw materials to disposal, each stage of a product’s life requires energy, water, or other natural resources.
For example, to manufacture electronics we need raw materials such as oil, iron, gold, copper, and more. It takes energy to mine these materials and to manufacture the product. Electronics, of course, also require energy to operate. Then, when we’re finished with a product, we need a way to dispose of it.
So, what’s the most effective way to do our part when taking the entire product life cycle into account?
It’s Best to Reduce and Reuse
By reducing the number of products you purchase and reusing items when possible, you’ll stop waste before it’s created. This helps to save natural resources, conserve energy, and reduce pollution. As an added bonus, you could also save money!
To prevent waste, you can:
- Repair broken items.
- Donate items that you no longer need, but that are still working.
- Shop at thrift stores.
- Look for refurbished electronics.
- Buy your food in bulk with reusable containers.
- Purchase items that have less packaging.
- Check out books from the library.
- Swap paper towels, plates, and napkins for reusable ones.
- Check your refrigerator before going to the store and only buy only the amount of food you will eat.
Recycling and Composting Are Still Important
Keep up the good work of recycling and composting. You’ll save energy and water and help to recover valuable resources needed to make new products or grow food. For example, used electronics contain materials that can be returned to the supply chain to be used again. And it often takes less energy to make a product from recycled materials than virgin materials.
Here are a few tips to help you reduce waste by recycling and composting:
- Recycle everything that you can, such as aluminum, glass, paper, and plastics. Check with your local waste hauler or drop-off center to find out what recyclables they accept.
- Note that plastics have a triangle on them that looks like the recycling symbol, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate that they can be recycled. Locate the number inside the triangle and confirm that your waste hauler accepts plastics with that number.
- Recycle your old computers, TVs, other electronics, and batteries.
- Recycle used oil, which can be re-refined into new oil, processed into fuel oils, and used as raw materials for the petroleum industry.
- Compost kitchen waste such as vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bags and yard trimmings.
Check out our blog for more ideas to reduce, reuse, and recycle.