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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reduce Reuse Recycle

The three R's of environmental science are reduce, reuse and recycle.

Nature naturally recycles everything. The recycling of nutrients happen so fast in tropical rainforests that there are very few nutrients just lying about unused. Interesting enough, when these forests are cut, their nutrients leave with them to produce poor soils that can barely sustain grass.

Reduce means reduce your consumption.
I keep my doors closed and use low consumption light bulbs. We all have our ways of contributing. This saves me money and reduces the amount of electricity used by my home.
Yard Art Created from discarded metal objects.

Recycle means to repurpose items. When you recycle an aluminum soda can, it saves 5 hours of electricity which you can use to run the lights in your home. Some items are not recycled easily because either there is no set up for the reuse or it is not profitable. I have compost from vegetable waste. It is a good fertilizer for the lucky plants that get it.

Reuse is simple. My mother will take a plastic bread bag, rinse it and put it over an object to dry to use again. Her generation was very practical and thrifty. I don't know if that can catch on unless the disposable income of people drops which I hope does not happen. In the United States, it is popular to have yard sales in which people sell unwanted household items. This produces some money for the person but also recycles the object by someone else.

Plastic soda bottles produce excellent polymers or strings of plastic to reuse. The biggest reason they are not recycled is the cost of petroleum. With the low cost of petroleum, it is just cheaper to manufacture more versus recycling what has been produced. A consumer response to plastic is that bottles of water are sold in lighter bottles. Less plastic for the landfill and a lower weight to ship to the consumer.

Cardboard dropped in prices during the last recession. The recession was world wide. China buys a great deal of cardboard for recycling to manufacture paper products and packaging to sell to themselves and the world. With the recession, there was less demand. Purchasing paper towels and toilet paper made from recycled paper encourages recycling.

My older brother is developmentally delayed and works at a workshop. The workshop found a niche in recycling newspaper, cardboard, glass, aluminum. They also have a thrift store in which they sell donated items. I am currently downsizing my home and I donate many things that we do not use. It provides a job for about 200 people in addition to the approximately 40 staff members employed.

As a classroom teacher, I told my students, one day someone is going to get rich mining landfills in this country. Reduce, reuse and recycle keeps a lot out of landfills.


  1. I remember teaching this lesson to Year 4 children many years ago. I loved it, they loved and the school made changes to enhance its invaluable lessons. We even formed a Green Team. Great post.

  2. I love this entry! I had something about recycling on E day :) I love the uses, art and simplicity of the objects. I agree - our parents generation was much more thrifty, and everything wasn't disposable. I was told to throw out a perfectly good car seat the other day because no one will take it, but I guess that's another bunch of issues!
    [Renée] from SpokenFingers
    Spoken Fingers ~ Life, Understood
    Quotes and Thought Provoking Words

  3. Some of that thriftiness of the previous generation has rubbed off - I have piles of plastic bags, glass bottles, etc taking up space in the pantry cabinets. Beyond a certain point it becomes clutter and has to be discarded.

    In India, plastic bags have now been replaced with recyclable stuff, paper and jute in many places. You pay extra to use plastic.

  4. We've become a society of disposable everything: appliances, phones, clothes, relationships, values. (Eeek. Bitter much, Guilie? ;) ) Recycling has barely begun taking off here in Curaçao, but it is, slowly, taking hold. There is still a lot of waste going on, but more and more people are starting to become aware of the consequences. We were in San Francisco a few years ago and I was impressed (and, truth be told, a little intimidated) by how strict everyone is with recycling. I felt so stupid, standing in front of three wastebaskets at a coffee shop, trying to figure out which one to throw my cup—the lid—the stirrer—the sugar wrapper—into :D It needs to become standard, though; subconscious, even. And that can only be achieved through education—which is why the world needs people like you :) This A2Z series of yours, Ann, is a wonderful education for everyone. Thank you.
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs


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