Reducing, Reusing or Recycling

Is it better to reduce, reuse or recycle? What’s the difference between the three exactly? Today we’re going to learn the difference between reducing, reusing and recycling and which one has the best affect on the environment.

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REDUCE: Reducing is pretty self explanatory. All you have to do is use less of any particular resource. For example, you could reduce water use by taking shorter showers. You can also reduce electricity use by turning off your laptop instead of just shutting it, reduce gas use by walking or biking more and driving less, and reduce red meat consumption by eating more eco-friendly fruits and veggies.

Man trading a bunch of incandescent light bulbs for one compact flourescent. Focus on bulbs. Green background.

REUSE: To reuse just means reusing items you already have. For example, try reusing old containers to grow plants in, cream cheese or other old containers for tupperware, or plastic grocery store bags as trash bags in small trashcans instead of buying new small trash bags.

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RECYCLE: Recycling is a little more difficult. We can only recycle some items and some items have to be thrown away. Here’s a list of things you can recycle:

  1. Newspaper
  2. Aluminum cans
  3. Plastic bottles
  4. Cardboard boxes
  5. Steel cans (like soup cans)
  6. Glass bottles
  7. Magazines and other mixed paper
  8. Batteries
  9. Computers

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So, which one is best? Recycling actually takes a lot of energy and water and is not particularly effective at repurposing the products we recycle. For example, a plastic water bottle can never be recycled into a plastic bottle again because breaking down the plastic actually reduces it to below food-safe quality. Recycling a plastic bottle also takes unbelievable amounts of energy and water. The solution? Reducing waste in the first place by using less resources stops the problem at the source. Instead of buying a plastic water bottle and recycling it, drink from the water fountain to reduce plastic waste. Reusing is also great. Buy a reusable water bottle and reuse it every day instead of buying a new disposable plastic bottle and recycling it every day. However, you don’t have to only reuse or only reduce. Recycling is really important and much better than just throwing that plastic bottle into the trashcan.

The bottom line: A healthy combination of reducing, reusing and recycling can help save the planet!

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