Improve your impact on the environment in three simple steps: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

When it comes to going green, recycling gets all the glory, but reducing and reusing are just as important to making an impact to the environment. And when practicing the three R’s in the proper manner they are all inextricably linked. So we thought we’d pass along a few pointers and a little explanation to help you help the planet.


Take this step at the simplest definition of the word: reduce what you use; reduce the amount you throw away; reduce the toxicity of what you throw away; and, you’ll reduce your impact on the environment.

The fancy term that experts like to throw around for the reduce step is “source reduction,” which actually means consuming and throwing away less. When you’re practicing waste reduction you:

  • Purchase durable, long-lasting goods;
  • Seek products and packages that are as free of toxic materials as possible;
  • Purchase products that use less raw material in production, have a longer life or are designed to be used again after their original use.

Source reduction actually prevents the generation of waste in the first place, it is the most preferred method of waste management and goes a long way toward protecting the environment.


Think about everything you use and throw away during an average day of your life. Now, think about how much waste could be saved if you simply reused some of those items you threw away. Reusing items is actually better than recycling because they don’t need to be reprocessed, and thus have less of an effect on the environment. For example, rinsing out and reusing your plastic baggies can save you money while keeping additional waste out of landfills. Below are some other effective ways to reuse items:

  • Use cloth napkins or towels
  • Refill bottles
  • Resell or donate old reading materials, clothes, surplus equipment, etc.
  • Reuse boxes
  • Use empty jars to hold hardware or office supplies such as screws or paper clips
  • Purchase refillable pens and pencils


And now, the R you are probably the most familiar with - Recycling. Recycling takes materials that would otherwise become waste and turns them into valuable resources; generating a host of environmental, financial and social benefits. A wide variety of materials can be recycled, such as glass, metal, plastics and paper, and recycling them provides many benefits:

  • Conserves resources for the future
  • Prevents the emission of many greenhouse gases and water pollutants
  • Saves energy
  • Stimulates the development of greener technologies
  • Reduces the need for new landfills and incinerators

Recycling is one of the best environmental success stories of the late 20th century. Eighty-two million tons of material was diverted away from landfills and incinerators in 2006, up from 34 million tons in 1990. About 8,660 curbside collection programs served roughly half of the Europe’s population by 2006, and those programs, along with drop-off and buy-back centers, resulted in a diversion of about 32 percent of the nation's solid waste in 2005.*

Recycling right means buying recycled, too.

For recycling to have as powerful an effect as possible, you have to do more than set your recyclables on the curb. In order to provide incentive for manufacturers to recycle and make the process economically feasible, consumers must buy recycled products and packaging. Doing so creates an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, manufactured and marketed as new products and provides both economic and environmental benefits.

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