Friday, June 14, 2013

Reduce, Reuse THEN Recycle

We have it wrong folks...we have been doing things with our minds flipped backwards for too long so I'm going to take a minute and straighten a few things out.  This whole Reduce, Reuse, Recycle thing has been mixed up.  I was basically raised to think that the little triangle of arrows meant recycle.  We didnt talk the reduce or reuse parts, but those are the most important!  We can't get where we need to go by just recycling...we have to start with steps 1 and 2.  So let's dig in to it...

Before cutting straight to the "throw it in the blue bin" part, we first need to back things up to the your house where stuff gets used and/or tossed in the trash.  Grocery bags are a good example...these are very handy when you're leaving the store, unpacking the basket into the car and then from the car into the house...then, after that 30 minutes of use, we are often done with them.  I know what you're saying "no, no...that's not the end of their use.  I use them as trash bags".  Yes, you are still hitting on number 2 - reuse...but reduce comes first.  These are extraneous. They don't add value but come at an extreme cost.  We use TONS of these things (which are made from petrol) and they all end up in the trash.  Non compostable, essentially non biodegradable...just trash.  Terrible.  There are tons of stats out there, but this isn't my point.  My point is that instead of recycling them (which many stores now offer), or reusing them (which is better than tossing them)...we should first strive to eliminate the need for them...and other things that aren't necessary. Start with thinking about how you can reduce what you consume, then optimize by reusing and if necessary, recycling.

This was the philosophy on which I'm gradually optimizing our home energy usage and yes, it's ok that it's a process. Life is a process and we're all at various stages along the journey but what's great is that it's a win win...the more you learn, the less you consume overall, the more you re-use and the less you recycle (though you're hopefully still recycling a higher % of your overall consumption than previously). So yeah...think about "waste" in your life...things that you could live without or "reduce" your consumption of and do it.  Remember....Reduce, Reuse THEN Recycle :)

No comments: