A Resolution To Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in 2023
In 2022, we all made great strides in the reduction of waste going into landfills. In 2023, we’re looking forward to continuing the trend. In an effort to keep as much material out of landfills as we can, we can focus on the 3 R’s of waste management. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
- Reduce means cutting back on the amount of actual trash that we create.
- Reuse means to find new ways to use items that would otherwise get thrown into the trash.
- Recycle means to take something we think to be useless and to turn it into something new and useful.
Learn to Reduce:
The first of the 3 R’s is Reducing. It’s as easy as just creating less waste. Here are some ideas you can use to Reduce.
Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery. Avoid the plastic and brown paper bags and reduce the amount of plastic that gets used to take the groceries home and goes into the trash.
Bring your lunch to work in reusable containers. You don’t need to take a sandwich or snacks in a plastic bag. While you can use that bag a few times, it’s less likely that you’ll toss a container in the garbage. There are containers are made specifically in the size and shape of common lunchbox foods.
Personal water bottles spare years of plastic waste. You can refill and carry an aluminum water bottle to the gym or on long car rides and avoid the purchase of 16oz quick drinks or bottled water. Average out 2 bottles a day over the course of a year and a single personal water bottle can spare the disposal of as many as 700 plastic bottles. It’s true they can go into the recycle bin, but do they?
Keep your eyes open when you’re shopping. Item’s like potato chips that come in tubes have a combination of cardboard and metal. Even if you put them in the recycle bin, they ultimately get put into landfills. A lot of food packaging just isn’t recyclable. Be aware of the items you buy and make decisions to choose items in recyclable packaging.
It’s likely you can make enjoyable food choices by creating your own snack foods that you can store and carry in your own reusable containers. Take a look on websites like Pinterest and you’ll find an endless stream of fun and delicious options you’ll enjoy without the packaging waste.
Learn to Reuse:
You’re likely hanging on to items that can be reused either by yourself or by other people. This is an opportunity to reuse common items and it’s the second of the R’s. Before throwing them away, think of the people who might use them or places you can bring them where other people can decide if they want them.
Children’s toys are often made of plastic and they’re useable long after your children have grown. Plastic outdoor toys like slides and sandboxes are perfect examples. When you’re going to buy new dinnerware - plates, glasses and cups, even utensils are items that can have a long life after you’re done with them. How about tools in the garage? Have a yard sale or donate them to a church or another organization that has public sales. It can help raise some useable funds and give a new life to items you might otherwise put in the trash.
You’ve likely got bags of clothing in the attic or tucked away in the back of your closet. We may outgrow clothing or change our styles, but those clothes are perfectly useable by someone else. You can donate them to a thrift store and give them a second life that someone else will be able to use instead of putting them into the trash.
Learn to Recycle:
The third of the R’s is Recycling and is likely the most commonly discussed of the 3 R’s. It’s about changing discarded materials into something new in order to reduce using natural resources to create new product.
On a small scale, recycling household items, like bottles and jugs for further liquid storage, or transforming them into useable items through crafting; a bottle becomes a bird feeder, or a jug can be used to scoop dirt in the garden - but this is an extremely small-scale effort.
Most households have a recycling bin as part of their city trash removal program. Knowing what goes where in the trash bins makes a big part of proper recycling. When we discard items, they leave in a truck and we aren’t all that aware of what happens next, but some online video searches can show just what gets recycled and how it becomes something new.
Newspaper, as there are millions of them tossed onto the front stoop of homes around the country every day, are a big item in the recycling world. Newspaper can become building insulation, paper plates or other types of reading materials like phone books. Recycled newsprint becomes egg cartons, insulation for buildings and goes into making sheetrock and even new newsprint. Part of the key to recycling newspaper it is to keep it dry.
Plastic milk jugs and similar style containers get recycled into decking lumber and all of those orange 5-gallon buckets you see at the hardware store. Frisbees, drink coolers and seats at the baseball field are all made using recycled plastic milk jugs.
Another important choice is to make sure that tin cans go into the recycle bin to keep them out of landfills. Old cans become news cans, they become bicycle frames and in some cases, they even get turned into materials that create asphalt roadways. All of these recycled products keep cans out of landfills.
Every day we have an opportunity to make good choices for the environment. It takes just a second to choose something beneficial and one simple choice can spare the planet from hundreds of years of waste decomposing in a landfill.
Throughout 2023, make it your resolution to step-up your game when it comes to the three R’s, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and make an effort to discuss the benefits of doing it with friends and family. Become part of the conversation that encourages people take action.