Most people remember learning their 3 Rs in school: reading, writing, and arithmetic. And yes, we know that two of those three begin with letters other than “r.” Nonetheless, that triad of basic skills was deemed to be – and still remains to this day – the core of any sound educational curriculum. As new awareness of environmental concerns arose, however, a new set of “Rs” was coined and quickly embraced by Americans who wanted to do their part: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
If that’s a new concept to you, then chances are that you were educated decades ago before this series of environmental concepts became more commonly known. In essence, they encourage us to reduce the amount of waste we create, reuse those things that we can, and recycle everything that can be recycled. It’s a fairly simple concept, but one that can have profound impact on the health of the planet and the living conditions we all enjoy.
Reducing waste is not just about eliminating what you throw away. It’s also reducing the potential for waste. That can require everything from buying large bulk containers to choosing options that have the least amount of packaging in the first place. You can also avoid buying disposable items like plastic razors, foam cups, and paper plates, and choose only the most durable and long-lived items you can find. Use dish towels instead of paper alternatives, and always opt for food that leaves the least amount of waste in its wake.
Reusing your old products is not as difficult as it sounds. Those paper and plastic bags can be used for storage, or simply taken into the store when you need grocery or other shopping bags. Clothes, toys, and furniture can all be sold at garage sales, or even donated so that a less-fortunate family can benefit from giving the items a second life. Plastic containers can often be used as drinking vessels, while coffee cans and other durable containers can be used for storing small items, gardening, and a host of other purposes.
This is the one most of us know by now. Very few of us are as efficient as we should be, however. To improve your recycling efforts, find a recycling center near you and visit it. Ask about the various materials they accept, so that you have a better idea of how to manage your own recycling efforts. You’ll be surprised what you can learn. Of course, you should also close the recycling loop by actively buying products made from recycled materials. That helps to ensure that recycling remains profitable enough to survive, and benefits everyone in the long run.
At the Earth Company, we know that this three-fold strategy is just one critical component that will help to propel all of us to that more sustainable future that we all envision. Thanks to the efforts of millions of committed individuals just like you, that future is getting closer every day.