You no doubt know about the three Rs and how important they are. Reducing the quantity of objects we own and the quantity of waste we create, suggests less items will end up in the garbage. Reusing what we can gives our objects another life and helps to keep them out of the trash. Recycling takes a range of materials and puts them to good use, helping the economy, creating jobs and manufacturing new products. You may have the mantra of “reduce, reuse and recycle” down, but there are more Rs you can add to your routine.
Just Say No
Refuse! Bringing a multiple-use shopping bag is a great way to cut back on how much you end up with. A big part of living a zero waste lifestyle is refusing what you do not need. What else can you refuse? Remove yourself from junk mail lists to cut back on paper.
Borrow, Don’t Buy
Be mindful of the life cycle of any item you purchase or acquire. Where did it come from and where will it end up? There are plenty of options for borrowing and sharing to help minimize how much items you own. Choose to reuse as much as you can.
The sharing economy is larger than ever. Access a wide range of objects and services only when you need them. If you need books, movies or magazines, go to your nearby library. You can even establish your own little free library in your neighborhood. Toys and games take up lots of space and are frequently non-recyclable. Try using a resource like the toy sharing library in your area or establish a hand-me-down network. Instead of sending gifts that someone won’t use or need, provide experiential gifts that create fun memories, not waste.
Choose to Fix-it
When things become worn or stop working, they frequently end up in the trash. By fixing and maintaining the objects in our homes, we can keep them functioning longer. This way, you will have other options, like donation or resale, instead of adding them to the waste stream. Bring your objects to county fix-it clinics for help or use online repair resources. You can even borrow the tools you need from nearby resources like the Minnesota Tool Library.
Extend the life-cycle of an item you may no longer need by selling or donating it. Networks like Nextdoor allow you to interact with other users in your neighborhood to communicate and exchange objects and services. Craigslist and Facebook also have ways to sell your objects and buy used objects online. For safety’s sake, it’s recommended to only deal with people locally and use sanctioned exchange locations, like the swap meet.
By refusing and repairing, you make it much easier to minimize objects you don’t need and reuse objects you already have. Always look for more ways to minimize and keep working to create less waste and make sure your objects are recycled as much as possible. Do a zero waste challenge or waste audit. Are there objects you could do without? Commit to your decision to minimize, reuse, recycle, repair, refuse, and review by sharing your story. Be proud of your achievements!