Monday, April 19, 2010

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – Part 1

This is part one of a three-part series on reducing, reusing and recycling. It originally "aired" in July of 2008 and I thought it was time to revisit the subject. To get us started, here’s a really wonderful, informative movie on “stuff”. It takes about 20 minutes to watch but … it’s really worth it. And after watching it, I hope you’ll pass it on to everyone you know.

The Story of Stuff

Ok … on to the subject of reducing. Reducing refers to lessening the amount of items or resources that are consumed, using only the amount that is needed, and looking for alternatives that will lessen our use.

Here are some interesting facts: Even biodegradable items like food can hang around in garbage dumps for years. Trash is packed so tightly that it doesn't always get the necessary light, oxygen, and/or microorganisms it needs to decompose. Researchers have found 25-year-old corncobs and grapes, and 50-year-old newspapers that are still readable, in landfills.

While our trash situation is a big concern, reducing isn’t all about the landfill. It’s also about not having so much stuff to begin with … stuff that takes natural resources to create. Most of us consume as though there is no end to our resources. But the truth is that our resources … things like water, gas, trees, food, minerals and metals … are either finite or being used so fast that it is impossible to keep up with the demand. Someday we’re going to run out. And that could mean the end of … us. We can run headlong into running out and see what happens (nothing good, I’m sure) or we can start limiting our consumption … and consuming smarter … so that what we have will last a lot longer.

So how do we do that? Reduce! Reduce everything from our energy, water and gas consumption … to our purchases … to what we eat. Consider whether or not a purchase is really necessary … or is it just more stuff. When a purchase is made, consider the packaging and opt for bulk materials whenever possible. Purchase durable, long-lasting goods. Think about sustainability. Here’s a simple example: if we eat just one fish today, we allow the others to reproduce … providing us with fish for another day (that’s sustainability). If we eat all the fish today, however … we have none for tomorrow (that’s extinction).

Starting today, take a look at everything you use … and use less of it.

Watch for Part 2 of this series (Reusing) in an upcoming post.

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve.


  1. Love that video, love that post. When I first started becoming more aware of environmental issues, I really focused on the "recycle" part of the 3 R's. In the past few years, though, I've found "reduce" to be where I need to spend more of my energy. I hate having a lot of trash to put out on trash day, but I also look at a huge amount of recycling as a failure on my part, too. Why did I need that much stuff, and why couldn't I have gotten it with lesser packaging?

    I've been trying to make more decisions based on quantity and type of packaging. For example, I've stopped buying organic veggies at the supermarket where they put them on styrofoam trays and wrap them in plastic wrap--I'll drive a bit further to a different store that just uses the "organic" sticker--far less garbage. (Of course, uses more gas for the car--always a trade off!)

    In fact, this is giving me the impetus to finally write a letter to them requesting they use less packaging for their organic fruits and veggies! Maybe I can get the close grocery store to reduce their packaging :)

  2. My school won an enviro award. Kids come to school with their lunch boxes, not paper bags. Parents are encouraged not to wrap their lunches in non composting glad wrap. With a good lunch box, there is no need for plastic wraps to keep food fresh. Children have to take their uneaten food home. Parents know how much their kids have eaten, and are encouraged to make their kids eat the uneaten food when they come back from school.

    We also have worm farms and compost bins. All fruit peels are deposited in the special bins, and the enviro club members come and collect the peels.

    We are in collaboration with WWF. They give us funding, and we are not allowed to sell our produce. Instead anyone is allowed to pick them. Children as young as 5 years old know first hand where fruits and veges are from, not all are from the supermarkets.

  3. I think it is excellent what your doing, Ann.
    One nice thing about living simple and not being tied to things of this earth, one can be freed to take care of what we have in a way that reduces our footprint and therefore take better care of this earth.