Is it time to Rethink “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”?

We can thank the environmental movements of the 1970s for the catchy “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” slogan. It is important to realize that while these events led to the creation of the EPA in the United States, and the founding of Earth Day, society has remained in the cycle of consumerism.

Reduce Reuse Recycle for a sustainable future

The following concepts can be applied to almost any type of item that creates waste from textiles to electronics, food to paper.

Rethink


The first step is to stop and rethink.
Do you really need it that item?
Can you change the way you shop in an effort to reduce waste?
Can you borrow the item?
Have you thought about the whole life cycle of the product?
What goes into making the item?
Where does the item end up in the world?

Refuse

Avoid buying products like single use plastic and that use excessive packaging.

Reduce

If you are not able to refuse, reducing your usage of waste-producing goods is the next step. This is the first “R” in the traditional “reduce, reuse, recycle” model.

Reuse and Repair

Simply stated, when you reuse or repair item for it’s intended purpose instead of rushing out to replace it you avoid the waste of the original product and the waste generated from obtaining the replacement.

Some of the most well known reusable items include shopping bags, cloth napkins and paper towels, reusable coffee pods … just a few of the numerous items that can replace single-use and disposable items.

Re-purpose

Similar to reusing, re-purposing uses the item for a different purpose. It can be something as simple as using an old metal bucket for a flower pot. The possibilities are endless!

Rot

If possible, compost organic matter as it creates methane gas in landfills. In my city, we are fortunate enough to have a city-wide composting program available. However, apartment complex landlords are not required to offer this service, especially when they opt for the dumpster instead of the bins.

Recycle

Check with your municipality, town or city for your specific regulations. Many retailers offer basic e-waste recycling. Be careful when buying items that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because something is recyclable that it’s free of consequences. While it’s great that an item can be diverted from the landfill, it doesn’t always end up being recycled. As consumers, we get tricked into buying more of an item and made not to feel bad because we think once it hits the recycling bin that the story is over.

In conclusion, the bottom line is that recycling should be the last step.
When teaching and talking about the three basic R’s, the other R’s -to rethink, to refuse, to re-purpose, to repair, and to rot – are important additions to the standard Reduce, Reuse, Recycle everyone knows.

It starts with rethinking your habits and considering the whole life cycle of the product.

reduce reuse recycle can we do more to be sustainable

Easy Tips for a Zero Waste Kitchen

How to have a zero waste kitchen

The kitchen is easily one of the biggest waste producing areas in our house.
Here are some quick tips and tricks to help transition to a zero waste kitchen and reduce your waste, without having to invest a lot.
Baby steps are okay.
And I am all about being frugal.

Stop Using Paper Products

One of the easiest steps to take on a journey to a zero waste kitchen is to stop using paper towels and napkins.
Replace them with cloth.
You can buy specially made “un-paper” towels or even just regular tea or bar towels or any type of cloths. I have a designated pattern of weirdly small hand towels that we use in place of paper towels in the kitchen.
For lunch napkins, I have some cute bandannas and handkerchiefs that were either gifted or bough at thrift stores.
I have been known to cut up flannel blankets and pyjama pants that are not repairable to make unpaper towels and reusable napkins.
If you aren’t ready to go paperless, then switch to bamboo as it is more sustainable.

Bonus for me: Not having to do the complicated “paper towel math” to see if I am getting the best deal. It’s similar to toilet paper math.

Zero Waste Kitchen

Save Your Jars – Zero Waste Storage!

Save your jars to avoid needing to buy new ones.
You can use them for left overs, or to store dried goods in.
If you are going to freeze things in jars, make sure the contents have cooled down first.
I use them sometimes to make protein shakes in.

Zero waste reuse jars

Ditch the Plastic

Stop using cling wrap and plastic baggies.
Opt for jars, beeswax wraps, metal, and glass containers.
I use cloth baggies for my children’s school lunches as well in an effort to reduce waste.

zero waste reusable lunch bags

Keep Veggies Fresher Longer

Store onions and potatoes in a basket in dark cupboard to keep them last longer.
Salad greens, beans, and peas can be stored in the fridge between damp tea towels. You can stand celery in water, and float carrots in water.

. . . and Regrow Them!!

I have regrown lettuce, green onions, and celery.
After cutting off that I need, I just planted them into a pot to let them grow again.

zero waste regrow produce

Compost

If you can, composting in an important step in reducing what goes to landfill. You are giving your scraps a second life. When I lived in a rural area, I composted everything that I could and used it in my garden. I once had compost potatoes and found pumpkins growing in my compost that I ended up giving away to neighbours.
My landlord does not have our units supplied with composting bins. We are lucky to have a friend who accepts our compost.

Don’t. Use. Disposables.

This is pretty much a no brainer.
It may make clean up a bit easier, but think of all the trash that it creates — and the plastic that is never going to go away.
I developed the habit from my Grama to clean and reuse disposable cutlery.
I am also that weird family member who will clean and take your plastic cutlery home with me if you’re only going to throw it away. My family is starting to come around…
I send the rescued plastic forks and spoons in my kids lunches and they know to bring them home so they get washed and reused.


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