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Sometimes referred to as the “New Three R’s”, the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is a simple formula that encourages people, businesses, and municipalities to utilize goods that are already manufactured rather than continue to use only limited raw materials to produce replacement goods. While simplistic in nature, this formula is one that can easily be implemented in the home as well as in the wider community.
There are a number of different ways to engage in the process of reducing waste. One approach is to take a long look at the amount of disposable products we consume each year. Often, the task requires making a few simple lifestyle changes. For example, we discontinue the use of plastic plates, cutlery and cups in favor of a sturdy set of dinnerware. While they do require washing, these pieces can be used again and again as opposed to paper and plastic items that we toss into the trash after one use. Preventing waste involves modifying our habits so we only use what we need and no more.
Along with reducing the amount of disposable items we consume each year, there is also the task of reusing products we already own. In some instances, this means passing on an item to someone who can use it. Rather than discarding good clothing that no longer fits, the clothes are passed on to someone who can wear them. At other times, it means finding another use for an item. For example, old bath towels can be cut down into kitchen towels that will be ideal for drying dishes and wiping countertops.
The third key component in the reduce, reuse, recycle trilogy is recycling. This is where we gather up items we no longer need and allow the material to be used in the creation of new items. Many communities actively support recycling by providing citizens with color-coded plastic bags for items such as plastic jugs, glass jars, and old newspapers. The municipality picks up these filled bags and forwards the collected items to recycling centers. There, the materials are sorted, broken down, and submitted for use in manufacturing new items. In order to facilitate this process, many municipalities offer their citizens information on ways to recycle unwanted products effectively.
There are a number of advantages to adopting a lifestyle incorporating the concept of reduce, reuse, recycle. By minimizing the amount of disposable items consumed each year, valuable resources are redirected to manufacture products that are of more benefit to the community. On the home front, consumers become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the quick fix of using disposable items.
Next, consumers save money and time by repurposing older items. Doing so eliminates the need to schedule time for shopping or to spend money on new products. This translates into more time and money to do things with family and loved ones.
With recycling, everyone wins. Usable materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill go back into the manufacturing process, making it possible to manufacture products for less cost while lessening the drain on limited resources at the same time.
People of all ages and backgrounds can participate in this process of reduce, reuse, recycle in some manner. Take a look around your home today. There is a good chance you can identify at least a half dozen ways you can employ this strategy to good advantage.
I really admire these efforts in the U.S. and Europe. But at the same time, I see other countries in the world, where poverty is rampant and people are so worried about taking food home to their families that something like recycling or reducing car emissions seems insignificant.
It's great that Americans are worried about resources and pollution but I think that these steps are not enough. The world belongs to all of us and unless everyone does their share, we will not get too far.
I also don't blame people in other countries. We cannot expect them to worry about these things when they have so many other problems. Every country needs to develop and have wealth and opportunities so that they can take some steps towards reducing, reusing and recycling.
What do you guys think?
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