A common misconception when thinking about reducing one’s waste footprint is the belief that recycling paper, plastic, aluminum cans, and glass bottles are the best way to do it. In reality, recycling ranks only third in the most impactful ways to reduce material waste. The actual order is: Reduce, Reuse, and then Recycle. Each is beneficial, but placing them in this priority order helps us improve our material waste impact.
While a lot of us recognize the importance of recycling and reusing, reducing actually offers the most benefit to our environment and our pockets!
What is Reducing all about?
It’s about reducing your consumption to reduce your overall waste footprint. Each consumer good is created with multiple products and materials. All those materials and products require energy not only during their creation but also during their transport to you, the consumer. Thus, by reducing our usage of products, we eliminate multiple channels of energy. This is the reason that purchasing your groceries from local markets reduces gas and packaging waste, and allows you to help the economy of your local farmers.
Reusing goods is a great help to eliminate the demand for the manufacturing of new goods while reducing the energy that goes into recycling. Next time you feel like you’re done with an item, remember that it could still be useful to someone else. Hence, donating clothing and household goods to your closest thrift stop allows for the creation of more jobs and help someone else to find items for a fraction of the price.
Recycling is the best way to help keep material from the landfill. Be conscious when you purchase any item to make sure it can be recycled or reuse. Go for the best option: to buy articles made of recyclable materials, whenever possible. A great economic benefit of recycling is a growing industry that continuously creates new jobs for the research and processing of recycled materials and also for the manufacturing of new environmentally friendly products.
We can all implement a conscious environmentally friendly lifestyle by keeping in mind this list of priorities—reduce, reuse, recycle. By doing so, you will be reducing your waste footprint and help us preserve our planet, our only home.