The Basics of Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle

Many of us are relatively new to the whole “Recycling” thing, and aren’t

quite sure of the basic rules around the whole process. The point of this post is to get everyone started on the right track, because as you all know our environment depends on it. Let’s take a closer look at the three fundaments: recycling, reducing and re-using.


For many people just starting out on their eco-friendly voyage, this is their Step 1 of the whole process. That’s fantastic! Now let’s try and improve on this concept a little bit, and refine your recycling habits. By the time you’re through, you’ll be recycling as effectively as any pro out there.

1)      Mark and organize your home recycle bins. The best way to do this is by verifying with your area’s recycling center’s requirements. The usual categories are paper, glass and metal. However, it’s always best to make sure. Checking out your city’s website should guide you to their waste management and recycling pages.

2)      If you’re lacking floor space, consider perhaps a wall shelf or placing them outside your back door, or on the balcony. Just remember, the easier they are to access, the more likely you are to actually use them.

3)      Before tossing an item in a bin, see if you can’t use it for something else. If you have children, paper towel and toilet paper rolls make great craft items. Glass bottles can make great juice jugs once they’re washed. The possibilities are endless.


This part isn’t all that hard to accomplish. Wasting less or reducing simply means using less. The biggest challenge here is normally getting used to the change in habit. Often the amount we use is second- nature to us. Ask yourself the following questions;

1)      Do you take long showers? Consider putting a timer in the bathroom to reduce water usage.

2)      How often do you use batteries? If you’re often changing batteries, you might want to consider making an investment in rechargeable ones in order to reduce the waste factor. Disposable batteries are not only fully of harmful toxins, but they take up an large amount of landfill space.

3)      How many lights are on? Do you leave the lights on when you walk out of a room? Are there unnecessary lights on in your home or office, especially during the day? Use as much natural light as possible, and turn off the lights when you leave the room.

4)      What type of lighting are you using? You’re probably aware that compact fluorescent bulbs use less energy, and last longer than normal light bulbs do. It’s worth the investment, and some hydro and electric companies will give you a “bonus” for switching to lower energy lighting.

5)      How often do you run the dryer? If you find yourself using it more than once a day, you may want to consider putting your clothes on a clothes line or drying rack instead of using the dryer.

6)      Do you buy bottles water? You might want to switch to reusable plastic or stainless steel bottles. This will reduce the amount of plastic which needs to be recycled. Recycling plastic requires the use of petroleum, and the process produces harmful emissions. Only half of the disposed water bottles are actually recycled. The rest end up in landfills because people forget to recycle them.

Re-use or Refurbish

Here are some ideas on how you can re-use or refurbish various items in your home.

1)      Whether you have a blender that’s not working properly, or a pair of shoes with a sole coming apart, you may want to try and fix it before tossing it away. You can often find online tutorials on how to fix these types of things, and this would prevent you from having to buy something new right away.

2)      Buy items from a used or second-hand store. From clothing to furniture, there are a great many locations you can go to find some bargains. Try local thrift and antique stores, flea markets and garage sales. An even better idea is to turn to family and friends. Perhaps you can exchange something of yours for something of theirs.

3)      Donate any items that are still in good condition to various charities or second-hand stores.

4)      Use cloth, not paper. Instead of paper tissues, use a handkerchief. Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Replace your usual uses of paper towels with cloth rags as much as possible. Instead of covering your food in the microwave with paper towels,  try using another plate, or a splash guard created especially for this purpose.

Now that you have the basics down, we’ll tackle another topic next week. But for now, how about practicing your 3 Re – Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.

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