Ah, Reducing. The first “R.” Often times we forget about this practice. As a society, we focus more on trying to recycle rather than using less of them. However, there is a reason for the order in which the three R’s of the environment are placed. Reducing is the first practice to leading a green life that should be put into place. Don’t get me wrong, the other two practices are very important, which is why we will be discussing those the next two months. This month, however, is just for Reducing! So what does it mean? How can we do this practice in our everyday lives?
Reducing, as I am sure we all understand, is defined as making something smaller or lesser in amount/size. In this case, there are a lot of things that we could reduce to improve our environmental lives. Reduce how much food you eat, how much trash you have, how many products you buy, how many miles you drive. The possibilities are endless. For this month, we will focus on making ourselves more aware of what we use and how much we use of it.
Because this topic can be so broad, let’s narrow it down and ask ourselves a few questions about household waste to start us off…
-How many bags of trash to you take out a week? How much of that trash is recyclable?
-What are your needs and what are your wants? If you do need something, how much of it do you need?
– Do you know where your garbage goes?
These may seem like very trivial questions, or even convicting, but once we become aware of what we use and what we waste, we can better improve how we shop, eat, and use. So once you know what ways you may be more wasteful than you realize, it is time to take action! Here are some very simple ways that you can Reduce in your everyday lives,
- Buy things in larger sizes.
- This sounds strange, especially after we just discussed buying less, but the goal is to know what you need and buy that amount. So instead of going to buy a bunch of small cups of yogurt, buy a single tub and split it up in your own tupperware as you need it.
- Shop intentionally
- Make a list and stick to it! This can save a lot of additional purchases that may be impulse and consequently be wasted. This also is a big money saver when you stick to what you know you need.
- Give away what you don’t need.
- Sometimes we just don’t need certain things that we already have. Instead of just throwing it in a dumpster, find a way to sell it, or even better, to give it away to someone that does need it! This can apply to leftover food, clothes, furniture, and much more.
- Get a smaller trash can.
- This isn’t 100% effective, but it works for some. Some people don’t enjoy taking out the trash very often, so if there is a smaller bin, your mind may trick you into throwing away less. Another trick is to try to put less trash cans around your household. Sometimes we like to throw things away just because we don’t know what else to do with it. These strategies will allow us to think more about why we don’t need something.
These practices are made to be very simple! Not everyone has to reduce in the same way, but as long as we are learning to reduce, the effects can be great! Tune in next month to hear about how you can reuse things if you can’t reduce them.
Now that we know how to reduce, let’s talk about our second “R” which is Reuse! The definition of it is rather simple, since the name implies it; to use again. While it is such a simple task, we often forget to be creative about the things that we could reuse. We will separate a couple of different categories of how you can reuse things in your everyday life. Remember, the little changes make a BIG impact.
-Tupperware, washable water bottles
-Cloth shopping bags
-dishes and utensils that can be washed
-reusable coffee filters
-reusable food wraps (instead of saran wrap or aluminum foil, these are washable wraps!)
Repurposing is becoming a trend in our culture which actually saves money and our environment from wasting so much. This can also be considered upcycling. Upcycling is the reconstructing of a material to make something better than its original use. Typically for recycling, the material is made into a lower quality of material. Below are some examples of things that can be turned into something new…
Pallets > shelves, benches, wall decoration
Glass bottles/jars > vases, cups, containers, candle holders, soap dispensers
Old metal cans/bins > indoor herb gardens, flower pots
Old socks > dog toys, hot socks (heating pad)
Old cloths/curtains/sheets > bags, totes, upholstery, quilts
The above options are the simplest of ideas, but there are HUNDREDS of other ways that you can reuse something instead of throwing it away. Pinterest is a great place to get some ideas from. Check in next month for the Recycling portion!