blog sustainability

The Four R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rebuy

As an homage to Earth Day on April 22nd, my blogs this month will focus on getting you busy being a wee bit greener. This first exercise is taking a look at the four R’s. Do this for yourself, thinking about your habits at home, or apply it to your place of work. Grab a piece of scrap paper and on it, make four columns. At the head of each column, label with Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rebuy.

Think about what you already do that could go under each category. Go ahead and list each habit under the “R” that seems appropriate. Here are some examples:

four r'sReduce : Turn lights off when not in use; Buy less groceries at a time to prevent food waste; Walk instead of drive whenever possible; Turn your heat or AC off on mild days and open the windows instead.

Reuse : Instead of throwing used envelopes in the trash, use the other side as scrap paper; Save glass jars to use for food storage; Use rags instead of paper towels for cleaning; Save used toothbrushes for cleaning grout.

Recycle : Put all accepted recyclables in your recycling bin; Save non-bin recyclables to take to recycling center; Compost food waste; Use newspaper for worm composting.

Rebuy : Buy recycled paper towels and toilet paper; Purchase clothing second-hand; Go for vintage and antique furniture instead of buying new; Look for used books before buying new.

When you’ve made a list of “R’s” you’re already doing and can’t think of any more additions, now start thinking about what else you can do. If you have room on the same paper, draw a line and start a new list for each column – or grab another sheet of scrap paper.

Use your list of “do’s” to inspire your list of “to do’s.” If you already buy recycled printer paper, can you buy recycled envelopes too? (The answer is “yes”). If you have given up buying disposable razors, what other disposables could you eliminate from your life? How about plastic wrap? (Trust me, you can live without this, and you’ll save money.)

Did you discover anything surprising in this exercise? Share with us! What else can you filter through the 4 R’s?

Need ideas for your four R’s? Come visit me at the Union County Heritage Festival. I’ll have a fishbowl full of “Earth fortunes” for you to pick from!