Do you know the three R’s? No, not reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic, though those are very important. We want to discuss the three R’s of sustainability: reduce, reuse and recycle. The order really does matter. Why?
Reducing and reusing are more effective than recycling to address the plastic crisis. Single use plastic comprises 40% of all plastic waste. By reducing our use and reliance on plastic, we send a powerful message to producers that they need to find better, more climate friendly alternatives. Every individual action adds up to a potent number if we all begin taking steps to reduce plastic use every day.
Break up with consumerism and begin a new habit of reusing items. Get creative and try incorporating some easy steps into your daily routine:
- use empty food containers as storage for small household items
- use cloth napkins instead of paper
- opt for reusable water bottles
- keep reusable shopping bags in your car or near the door to take with you when shopping
- buy economy size products and decant into smaller (reusable) containers for daily use
- skip the straws
- opt out of plastic cutlery
- use wax/parchment paper instead of plastic wrap
- save old toothbrushes to scrub things in tight places
Remember that slowing global warming starts at home. You can make a difference.
Recycling is the third step, and it only works if items are recycled properly. The economics of recycling are challenging, and corporations prioritize profit. Plastics are not the easiest of materials to recycle, but according to one plastics industry expert, there is definitely a path forward, so don’t ditch your recycling efforts yet.
Did you know that plastic is produced from fossil fuels? That’s right not only are we beholden to the oil and gas industry for all of our gas and propane needs, now we are even more attached because they generate all of the plastic. That’s a lot of power and control over our day to day lives. Take a few minutes and see how plastics are made.
The United States represents 4% of the world’s population and generates 12% of the world’s waste, making it #1 in per capita trash contribution. Don’t forget, it’s not just plastics that contribute to our landfills, too many food items end up in landfills rather than being composted at home or through “green” waste pickup. Glass, aluminum, paper and other metals can be recycled as well. Will you pledge to begin new habits of reducing, reusing and recycling?