The Three R’s: What does Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Mean?

What does Reduce Reuse Recycle Mean?

If you have come across something known as the “waste hierarchy,” then you might be questioning what that means. It is the order of the precedence of actions to be taken to cut the sum of waste produced and to ameliorate general waste management methods and programs. The waste hierarchy entails 3 R’s as follows:

  • –          Reduce
  • –          Reuse
  • –          Recycle 

Usually termed the “three R’s” of waste management, the concept of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is advised for building a sustainable lifestyle. You may be speculating how you can integrate these values into your day-to-day life and we are here to explain that they are not that difficult to incorporate in your daily life.

All you require is to bring a minor transformation in your regular regime to decrease waste so that a reduced amount of it goes to the landfill and thus, decrease your carbon footprint.

The three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – all support to cut down on the volume of waste we discard. They protect natural resources, landfill space and energy. And, the three R’s save land and money that societies must spend to remove off waste in landfills.

Locating a new landfill site has turned out to be problematic and more costly because of environmental protocols and public concerns.

By rejecting to purchase objects that you don’t need, salvaging items more than once and disposing the items that are no longer of use at proper recycling centers, you can add to the mission of a healthier planet.

The First ‘R’ – Reduce

The notion of reducing what is made and what is consumed is vital to the waste hierarchy. The reasoning behind it is easy to understand – if there is not as much waste, then there is not as much to recycle or reuse.

The practice of ‘reduce’ commences with an inspection of what you are using, and what it is used for. There are three easy steps to measuring the reduction value of an item or process:

Step 1: Is there something else that could be used for this purpose? 

Using multi-use stuff is necessary to start reduction. An example would be a cappuccino maker and a coffeepot. Both of them clearly have distinct functions, but you can purchase a coffeepot that has a steaming accessory on it so it can do both.

The buying of one item instead of two means that quantity of production and the volume of waste packing material that will follow is lessened.

Step 2: Is this something that needs to be done?

Most of our waste material originates from items that are thought to be “disposable.” Not in the sense that you use an item once and then discard it which could in fact be a part of environmental responsibility for instance, when you are using medical supplies.

The disposable in the present context translates into whether or not what the item lets you to do has any actual application or purpose.

Step 3: Is the item required for something that you need to do or must do in your life? 

There are bounds to what you require beforehand to be equipped for in life. Odds are you won’t require a car that is fortified to handle a sandstorm in the desert.

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Purchasing more than normal requirements boosts manufacturing, as well as using up your resources and has multiplying effect on the waste generation. At all times, ensure that what you buy, or keep in your life as preparation for times ahead ties up with the certainty of possible usage opportunity in your life.

Here are some of the things you can do to reduce waste:

1.      Print on the front and back of the paper to lessen the amount of paper used.

2.      Use emails or digital communication to reach out to people as an alternative of sending paper mail.

3.      Get rid of your name from the mailing lists that you no longer want to get.

4.      Reduce paper towel and napkin use. Try fabric instead of paper.

5.      Try to avoid buying one use cutlery and napkins. They contribute to the problem and produce a huge amount of waste.

6.      Avoid purchasing items that are excessively wrapped with foil, paper, and plastic. This extra wrapping contributes to waste.

7.      Get long-lasting goods that have a prolonged warranty. The result is that land fill space is saved.

8.      Use refillable pens as a replacement of purchasing too many disposable ones.

9.      Buy multi-purpose products that execute many functions in one.

10.       Get reusable bags and bottles for everyday use. Avoid Plastic grocery bags and plastic bottles.

11.       Reduce food waste because the leftover food contributes methane to atmosphere thus increasing the carbon footprint

12.       If an item doesn’t have usability any longer, then it supplements your waste. If you’re not using anything for a long time, it’s time to put it away or think about using it for another purpose.

13.       The waste stream of bottled water from its source to recovery, recycling or disposal contributes to global warming and pollution so give the water bottle a miss.

14.       Waste reduction is the first step towards sustainable living.

The Second ‘R’ – Reuse

In your attic there might be a box of things you keep that are damaged or have lost the purpose for which they were brought but are there just so that an alternate use can be found for them. Or you might find a good deal on secondhand furniture or go trash picking and get things that you can refinish – in both situations you are reusing the item.

Making a habit to reuse items, or repurpose them for use besides what they are meant for is crucial in the waste hierarchy.

One of the prime examples of how this is achieved these days is the modular assembly of homes and office buildings that are being made out of cast-off shipping containers.

These big, semi-truck sized metal containers signify a big waste issue. Repurposing them as homes and offices keeps them away from landfills and doesn’t involve the extra spending of natural resources to disintegrate and reconfigure the metals used to make them.

You can either reuse the following items for your personal use or give them away so that others can use them.

Reuse these items:

Jars and Pots: Old jars and pots can be used to hold items in the kitchen. They can likewise be used to store miscellaneous items together, like computer wires.

Tires: Used tires can either be taken to the recycling station or could be made into hang tire swing.

Wood: Waste wood can be utilized as firewood or may be used for woodcraft.

Newspaper: Old newspapers can be used to package items when you’re preparing to move to a new home or store old things.

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Envelopes: Used and unwanted envelopes can be recycled by children to make short notes.

Waste Paper: Half-used paper can be used to scribble down notes and drawings and can be taken to the recycling center when you don’t need them anymore.

Garments: These can be made into bags or tote-bags with the assistance of tutorials accessible on the internet. At the very least, timeworn clothes can be used as cleaning cloths.

Old Books: The books you’ve already read or no longer want to read can be given to underprivileged children or can be given to public libraries.

Old Garments: The clothes you don’t want can be worn by street children or can be donated.

Old Electric Tools: Old electric tools can be provided to schools or NGO’s for their maintenance uses.

Rechargeable Batteries: Rechargeable batteries can reused endlessly and help to decrease pointless excess waste in contrast to regular batteries.

Build your own compost bin: Use the compost bin to throw away several waste items like used, tea leaves, tea bags and fruit peels, grains, etc. The waste then breaks down and turns into compost that supports plants growth and shine.

Be Creative: DIY old outfits, pots, bottles, vases, jars, or whatever else to transform them for other functions and further use.

Repair Damaged Items: Things, when mended, can be used yet again without purchasing replacements.

Second-hand Stores: Go to second-hand markets and stores and buy second-hand belongings. Second-hand stores and garage sales have practical items in good condition and will save you some cash instead of buying new ones.

The Third ‘R’ – Recycling

The final step of the waste hierarchy is to recycle. To recycle an item means that it will be converted back into a raw material that can be formed into a new item. There are very limited materials on earth that cannot be recycled.

One of the matters which disturb communities that want to become more involved with recycling efforts is that though the reliable gathering and sorting procedure may be within their means to establish, there still needs to be a space to take and recycle the rejected waste into a raw material to make new products. Hence the recycled material gets incorporated repeatedly into products you use.

Further advancement is being made toward linking recycling plants with industries that can process the waste content through contracts and incentives. In fact, the need of the times is a comprehensive recycling program supported by Government Policy.

Recycling paper through informal arrangement where waste pickers provide the recyclable raw material to industry is prevalent in many developing countries across the world. The waste pickers provide an essential service and in many cities of the developing world supplement the municipal solid waste management solutions.

One needs to be aware as to what products can be recycled and what cannot. By sensibly selecting the items that can be recycled, it can be the initial phase concerning effective recycling. We should adopt following habits:

1.      Purchase products that are made of reprocessed materials, meaning the product ought to be environment friendly.

2.      Ensure that all items you buy are ecofriendly such as some plastics. There is frequently a recycling symbol on the bottom of products to find out whether or not these are recyclable.

3.      Purchase items that can be recycled like glass, paper, plastic, aluminum, etc. used in the house, school or office. Aluminum can be recycled many times.

4.      Devise different methods to recycle different items. Still, recyclables have be collected methodically and parted from the rest of the waste, ensuring a constant supply for the recycling process.

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5.      Try not to purchase toxic materials that could be difficult to recycle. Get non-toxic products as much as possible.

6.      Buy goods that have been reprocessed from recycled materials.

7.      Consuming recycled products is as essential as recycling items. Recycling can become profitable only when the recycled goods are given importance and put to use.

8.      Use recycled paper for printing or making handcrafts.

9.         Pick up a plastic bottle or a plastic bag wherever you find it and dispose it off for recycling.

10.       Place a recycling bin on a neighborhood street corner for passersby to put in recyclable material such as aluminum cans , packaging material, plastic bags.

11.       Hazardous waste needs special requirements for proper disposal and recycling because of possible adverse environmental impact in case of improper handling, storage and reprocessing. Old electronics such as computers, cell phones and televisions are part of Household hazardous waste.

12.       You can sell scrap metal to a local scrap yard for recycling earning yourself an income.

Benefits of Reducing, Reusing & Recycling

1.      Because there will be a substantial decrease in the quantity of waste thrown into the environment, the odds of spreading pollutants also decline proportionately. It inevitably diminishes the levels of greenhouse gas releases and pollution.

2.      The Waste Hierarchy removes the practice of incorrect waste disposal, i.e., burning waste and trash chaotically in an unrestrained manner. Actually, it allows us to manage waste in an eco-friendly manner, reducing the threat of harm to the environment.

3.      The main goal of the 3R’s is to lower the use of newer resources and energy, making more proficient use of resources. It endorses resource efficiency by using the already existing resources that are used several times, reprocessed, or completely reduced. 

4.      It adds to more sustainable energy usage because unnecessary fuel consumption is cut down consequently the environmental impact is minimized.

5.      It boosts the progress of green technology. It provides for ways to form cleaner, harmless means of waste disposal while decreasing the effect on the environment and all habitats.

6.      It aids in increased use of renewable energy sources such wind, geothermal, solar, too.

7.      It helps to save energy and resources and create employment in resource management and boost the economy.

It promotes sustainable living while reducing greenhouse gas emissions emanating from landfills.

Reduce Reuse Recycle and Repeat

Shift from 3Rs to 5Rs

Are there any more ‘R’s?

Occasionally, two more ‘R’s can be added to the three rudimentary ones. Some will often think of an R and add it to the 3 Rs, but the following ones are more known.

  • –          ‘Rethink’ refers to the fact that we should reflect about how our activities affect the environment.
  • –          ‘Recover’ is now and then added to the end of the list. It denotes the act of making use of waste products. To further clarify what this means, an example can be given of decomposing garbage that releases methane gas, which can be retrieved and burned to produce energy.

Why Is It Important?

Industrialists mine natural resources such as aluminum ore or bauxite, and refine them through an energy consuming process to make products. More often than not, burning fossil fuels creates this energy. When people discard these items, they end up in landfills where they can take years upon years to break down completely.

Reducing, reusing and recycling can help shrink humanity’s environmental footprint, carbon dioxide emissions and energy use while restricting the amount of landfill space requirement.

These savings can be significant in as much that recycling of aluminum uses just 5% of the energy needed to refine aluminum, which is why the three R’s are the fundamental principles of contemporary environmentalism.

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