Reduce/Reuse/Recycle Use the Three Rs—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—when dealing with stuff.
Reduce the amount of stuff that you buy. Simply use less. Buy only what you need—or what you really, really want. Buy tools, appliances, furniture, clothing and other items that are designed to last for many years. Avoid buying things designed to be quickly used and thrown away. Seek out items that were made with natural materials under appropriate labor conditions.
“Reduce” is also referred to as “precycling”.
Avoid stuff in the first place.
Wherever possible, avoid packaging and containers.
If you have to get them, get containers that are recyclable.
Avoid prepackaged and prepared foods.
Buy whatever you can in bulk to save packaging and reduce costs, and prepare your meals from scratch.
Precycling means avoiding waste (and often saving money) by making good environmental decisions at the store.
Select products in recyclable containers such as paper, cardboard, glass and aluminum.
Avoid disposable and single-use products unless absolutely essential.
Avoid plastic containers whenever possible. If you have no choice, make sure that the recycling symbol (three arrows in a circle) is on the packaging.
Avoid disposable items. Buy items that can be used over and over; if not by you, then by someone else. Buy items that can be maintained and repaired so that their useful lifetime can be extended.
When you finally have no need of something, pass it on to someone else who can use it. If it is past the point where it can be used, recycle it so that its materials can be reused in some other form.
Recycle everything made from metals, plastic, wood, fibers, glass or paper. Someone, somewhere, probably has a use for it. Clothing, furniture, household items, tools and toys can all be used by someone else, particularly if they can get them for free.
Books can go to the local library for use or resale. Usable items can be given to local charities and thrift shops, taken to local materials recycling depots, or simply put in front of your house with a big sign that says “Free” (if your local regulations allow).
Shopping is a way of life for many people, but there are ways—particularly at the supermarket—that you can could down on purchases and expenses, with a minimum of suffering.
Avoid prepackaged products A significant percentage of the cost of many products is the packaging. The more you can avoid packaged products—particularly frozen foods, snacks, prepared mixes, and the like—the more money you save and the more you avoid the need for recycling.
Carry your own cloth shopping bags Carry your own sturdy cloth or net bags for shopping. You will no longer have to make the “Paper or plastic?” choice (which, in essence, is “Tree or oil?”). It avoids any need for recycling, and cloth bags are a lot stronger than paper or plastic bags. Most grocery stores sell them; some even give them away.
Skip the middle of the supermarket In most supermarkets, that’s where all the prepared foods and snacks with additives, preservatives and heavy sugar are. On the perimeter are the real foods: meat, dairy and produce. Venture into the middle only for such essentials as flour, cooking oil, spices, cleansers and the like.
Avoid chain stores
Shop locally. If you still have them, patronize local specialty stores such as butchers, fishmongers, green grocers, hardware stores, office supplies and the like.
Copyright (c) 2005, 2013 Mick Winter