Reduce, reuse, recycle: the “Three Rs.” We hear this phrase all the time — and most of us understand the recycling part — but how many of us really understand “reduce” and “reuse” and what we can do to incorporate these principles into our daily lives?
First of all, what do these words mean? To “reduce” means producing less trash in the first place. “Reusing” means finding a new way to use something instead of throwing it in the trash can. When done together, reducing and reusing avoid the creation of trash and the need to recycle or send it to a landfill.
Let’s look at actions we can each take to reduce our waste:
Do I really need to purchase this item?
- Use products you already have. Keep things clean and organized so you can easily find what you need.
- Maintain and repair. Items that are well maintained don’t have to be repaired or replaced as often. Try to repair something before you replace it.
- Buy well-made products. Durable products have a longer lifespan and are more likely to be repairable.
- Share, borrow or rent. Save money and reduce waste by sharing, borrowing or renting items you use infrequently.
- Shop used. Shopping for used items is sustainable and economical. Try looking around at garage sales, thrift stores and Craigslist.
Can I reuse this item?
- Reuse everyday items. Get in the habit of reusing everyday items such as plastic grocery sacks, coffee cans and old t-shirts.
- Use durable bags. Whether shopping for groceries, clothes, toys or tools use reusable shopping bags instead of paper or plastic bags.
- Use refillable mugs and water bottles. At work, at home or on-the-go, use a refillable container.
- Use Tupperware as take out boxes. These can replace disposable paper, plastic and Styrofoam boxes.
When I am through with an item, what are my options?
- Donate. Donate items to friends or thrift stores.
- Reuse at work. Make sure your office has a system for reusing, donating or selling surplus supplies and property.
Can I avoid all of this packaging?
- Choose less or no packaging. When choosing between two similar products, select the one with the least or no packaging. Products that contain less packaging include large or economy-sized items, concentrated products and bulk items.
- Choose recyclable packaging. If you can’t avoid the packaging, select the product with packaging that can be put into your curbside recycling bin or accepted at your local drop-off facility.
For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org, Greater Kansas City’s one-stop website for waste reduction, reuse and recycling information.