The 'whys' and 'hows'

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

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As more and more people, businesses and governments have embraced earth-friendly lifestyles and practices, it’s never been easier for you to lower your impact on the planet. One of the simplest yet most effective ways involves reusing materials and products that otherwise might be discarded and end up in a landfill.

Why reduce and reuse?
Of course, a reduce and reuse lifestyle preserves natural resources and reduces waste, but there are additional benefits to such a lifestyle as well.

• Reduces pollution: Harvesting new raw materials oftentimes contributes to pollution of our airways and waterways. By reusing items, consumers can decrease demand for new products, thereby reducing the pollution created when harvesting the resources necessary to produce those items.

• Emissions: Once harvested, raw materials are then turned into products. The process of transforming these materials into products can produce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap heat and warm the globe, producing a host of potentially harmful consequences for the planet and its inhabitants.

• Finances: Reducing and reusing has financial perks, namely the low prices of recycled items compared to brand new items. In addition, reusing everyday items, such as coffee mugs, instead of buying new items each day can add up to sizable savings over time. Repurposing clothing, such as using once fashionable T-shirts as workout gear, also can be a great way to save money.

How to reduce and reuse
Just like there are myriad benefits to reducing and reusing, there many different ways for you to reduce waste and reuse items.

• Shop for previously used items. Whether consumers are shopping for items for their homes or for new wardrobes, their options abound in regard to previously used items. Homeowners can work with contractors who have experience in working with reclaimed building materials from places such as your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and also while visiting antique shops or used furniture stores when furnishing their homes. When clothes shopping, you can visit consignment shops and thrift stores that sell slightly-used items at reduced prices.

• Pay attention to packaging. One of the biggest contributors to unnecessary consumer waste is packaging. Packaging is often made of raw materials, and heavily packaged items therefore require the use of more raw materials than items with less packaging. Packaging typically find its way into landfills, so consumers looking to reduce can favor items with less packaging when making their purchases and/or look for items packaged with reused or recycled materials.

• Maintain existing products. Reusing items does not always require repurposing them. By taking care of their existing products and possessions, you can get more mileage out of them, reusing them for far longer than they could if the products were not better maintained.

Reducing waste and reusing items go hand in hand. Embracing a lifestyle that emphasizes reducing and reusing can have a significant, long-lasting and positive impact on the planet.