Reducing, Reusing, Recycling vs. Use and Throw

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We are rapidly running out of place to throw our waste. Each year, we humans generate tons and tons of waste in the form of plastic, garbage, paper, metals and much more. The need of the hour is now to reuse and recycle our goods so that the earth does not turn into a huge pile of waste.

Each one of us has a role play in reducing the amount of waste we generate. Whether you are at school, or home or office, you can make a difference. Look out for opportunities to make a change.

Let’s begin by understanding what it means to reduce, recycle and restore, commonly called as the 3 R’s.

  • Reduce: means to limit the amount of waste you create in the first place. Examples including taking your own bags to the super market, buying less or just enough etc.
  • Reuse: as the word suggests, reuse means to use something again instead of throwing it away. Examples include reusing glass jars like jam bottles to store something else, or to use soda bottles as containers for plants etc.
  • Recycle: is another means of waste disposal. In this process, the waste materials are converted into new objects or materials. Examples include metal cans being converted into tin sheets, paper being converted into packaging materials etc. Recycling is only recommended when reducing and reusing are not possible.

Reducing, reusing, and recycling can help us, our community, and the environment by saving money, energy, and natural resources.  

Reduce – The Frist ‘R’

The idea here is to reduce what is produced and consumed so as to reduce waste. The lesser the waste, the lesser there is to reuse or recycle. In order to reduce, think about the following:

Can this product be used for something else? Can one item be used for two purposes? For example, you can buy a mixer grinder and a juicer. Both of them are used for a different purpose, one is for grinding and one is for making juice. However, consider using the mixer grinder alone for your juicing purposes as well, thereby reducing the need for one extra machine in the house. You also tend to reduce the packaging material by buying just one item.

Can something be done about a product? Is there a way to reuse something that is considered as ‘disposable’? If so, figure out if you can reuse an item and this in turn helps you to reduce the amount of things you buy.

Before buying anything, think if you really want this? Do you really need that 7th pair of shoes, or maybe that second car? There is no end to human want, so think deeply if you really need that purchase an item or not. Buying leads to production, which in turn leads to usage of resources and thereby generates waste.  

Ways to reduce wastes:

  • Try to buy fruits and vegetables that are not packaged. For example, consider buying your vegetables and fruits from the local market. This will force you to carry your own shopping bag and help the local farmers as well.
  • Try and avoid using disposable or single use items such as razors, paper napkins etc.
  • Use boxes to store food instead of cling film
  • Reuse envelops and print on both sides of the paper  
  • User email or social media network to communicate instead of printing brochures, sending greeting invites etc.
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins

Reuse – The Second ‘R’

The idea here is to reuse objects again and again. By reusing products, you can help reduce the amount of waste that is being generated. There are several advantages of reusing products. They include:

  • Savings on energy and raw materials: Replacing many single use products with one reusable one’s reduces the number that need to be manufactured. Examples, rechargeable batteries.
  • Reduced disposal needs and costs: The less you use, the less you have to throw away and more money you save.
  • Cost savings: The equation is quite simple. The less items you purchase, the higher are your savings. Also, reusable products are often cheaper than the many single use products.

Ways to reuse:

  • Reuse your jam bottles to store other things like pickles or other edibles in the kitchen. You can also use them to store coins or other small items such has hair clips, safety pins etc.
  • Rewire your old worn out tyres or sell them to a vendor who can recycle this product
  • Use old newspaper as wrapping paper or for packing. You can also sell them to a newspaper vendor
  • Reuse envelops and paper covers wherever possible
  • Try using rechargeable batteries instead of use and throw ones  
  • Donate old books and clothes: Think of donating your books and clothes to an orphanage. You can also try reusing your old clothes by converting them into rugs or floor mats

Recycle – The Third ‘R’

When something is recycled, a new product or raw material is formed. This raw material can then be reused for something new. One needs to know what items can be recycled. You can help reduce wastes by carefully selecting products that can be recycled.

Benefits of Recycling

  • Reduces the amount of waste sent to the junkyard   
  • Helps conserve natural resources such as wood, water and minerals
  • Increases the economic security of a region by tapping into domestic source of materials
  • Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials. Reduces carbon footprint
  • Saves energy
  • Helps create jobs in the recycling industries

Ways to recycle

Recycling right makes a lot of difference.

  • Buy recycled paper and use on both sides
  • Keep recycling bins in your house/ apartment and ensure that they are collected regularly
  • Recycle ink toners and cartridges wherever possible
  • Recycle newspaper by selling your paper to a local newspaper vendor
  • Use rewritable CDs and DVDs
  • Buy recycled products

Use and throw

Ever since plastic was invented and consumerism came into being, we became a disposable society. Now a days, it’s very easy to use and throw stuff way. We have products that can be used just once before being disposed. What’s more, some people think that one can make place for new things by throwing away the old ones.

But do you know what happens when you throw away something, especially after just one use? Say for example, an empty plastic juice bottle or a tetra pack. They go directly to the land fill and stay there unless there is an effective mechanism to recycle. In fact, some of the products found in the landfills are non-degradable which means they stay in that form for ever thereby increasing the amount of waste and causing pollution as well. It is estimated that each year over 500 billion single use coffee cups are used and thrown away around the world!

The concept of throwing away older things has the negative effect on the environment. Use and two items result in more garbage creation and eventually lead to the disposal problem. The more you throw, the more garbage you generate.  In a long run, this leads to the severe environmental pollution and bigger and bigger piles of garbage. If we are not diligent in the way we use things, we may soon be seeing more and more wastes piling up.

What can you do?

Some ways to reduce wastes include:

  • Use your own coffee or tea mugs or use reusable mugs/ plates
  • Purchase bio degradable items
  • Try and limit the number of use and throw items you use

Conclusion

Today, pollution has already become a serious threat to the world. We all have our individual roles to play in order to make this planet less polluting. Remember, we only have one earth and till we find another habitable planet, the Earth is all we have. So let’s try and make it safe not just for us but also for the generations to come.  Remember and practice the three ‘R’s’ – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Good luck!

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