We all know that recycling is important to the health of the planet and the reduction of waste, but did you know that there are two other ways you can save the planet and improve the quality of your life. According the the EPA, "reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money." How crazy is that? We can save the environment and save money at the same time!
There is a priority of actions called the "Waste Hierarchy" that should be enacted when trying to reduce and remove the amount of waste in our lives. The three categories from greatest to least important is: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
These are a few ideas from the Recycling Guide of UK to use when considering reduction:
- Buy what you need
- Buy products that can be reused
- Buy all-purpose household cleaner (OR MAKE YOUR OWN)
- Buy products with little packaging
- Sell or give away unwanted items
- Cancel unwanted mail
At the top of the hierarchy is reducing your consumption. Reducing the amount of products you consume that means you reduce the amount you have to reuse or recycle later. There are three simple questions to ask yourself when enacting your reduction process: Is there something else (multi-use) that can be used for this purpose? Is this something that needs to be done? Is this an item that you need or will need in your life?
Second in line when considering the hierarchy is reusing the products you already own, following are some ideas from the Environmental Protection Agency to consider. Buying used is great to consider when reducing waste in your life. You can find anything from clothes to building materials at specialized reuse centers and consignment shops (P.S used items are often less expensive and just as good as new!) Buying reusable over disposable items, for example, you can buy rechargeable batteries, rather than buying new batteries whenever you run out. Maintaining and repairing products you own and borrowing/renting/sharing one-off items like camping supplies, party decorations, etc. are also great ideas to reducing your consumption of items.
The last step in the waste hierarchy is recycling. The definition of recycling is: a product that will be reduced to its raw material and made into something new. Most items on earth can be recycled, however there are specific items that cannot be tossed into any recycling can. To make sure you aren't tossing any old sock or battery (be careful with this one!) in the wrong bin check with your local authorities or environmental agency the proper protocols to recycling your waste, recycling guides, or a recycling schedule.