Earth Day – Reduce, reuse, recycle: Have a positive impact on the planet

Earth Day 2018 is Sunday, April 22

As more and more people, businesses and governments have embraced eco-friendly lifestyles and practices, it’s never been easier for men and women to make a positive impact on the planet.

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to make such an impact is to look for ways to reduce waste, which often involves reusing materials and products that otherwise might be discarded. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, producing new items requires substantial amounts of materials and energy. Such products may require the extraction of raw materials from the earth before they can be fabricated and transported to places where they will ultimately be sold. By resolving to reuse products, consumers can greatly reduce the impact their purchases have on the planet.

Why reduce and reuse?

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. According to Livescience.com, 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 consumers 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 materials, while also visiting antique shops or used furniture stores when furnishing their homes. When clothes shopping, consumers can visit consignment shops that sell like-new 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, consumers 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.

Did you know?

Recycling paper benefits the environment in a myriad of ways. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling paper reduces greenhouse gas emissions that can contribute to climate change by avoiding methane emissions and reducing the energy required for a number of paper products. Recycling paper also contributes to carbon sequestration, which is the process through which agricultural and forestry practices remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Eco Preservation Society notes that carbon sequestration activities can help prevent global climate change by enhancing carbon storage

in trees and soils, preserving existing tree and soil carbon and by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Recycling paper also reduces the need for a substantial amount of landfill space and cuts back on the consumption of energy and water that is necessary to produce new paper products. Businesses looking to reduce reliance on paper can urge employees, clients and partners to use digital documents in lieu of printed documents, while private citizens can opt out of paper statements and choose to receive e-statements from their banks, mobile providers and utility companies.

Household items have lots of uses

“Reuse, reduce, recycle” is a mantra used by many eco-conscious men and women.

Reducing, reusing and recycling is not just a great way to conserve energy and natural resources, but also an effective means to saving money.

Men and women may not know it, but they likely have many items around the house that they can reuse and repurpose.

This can reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and help conserve the resources used to manufacture new products. The following are some common household items that can be reused or repurposed.

Containers: Glass jars and coffee cans are two examples of containers that don’t have to be discarded once the pasta sauce or coffee grains have been used up. Foodies who like to make their own sauces or spreads can repurpose old pasta sauce jars into storage for their homemade foods, such as marmalades, while coffee cans can be turned into storage for miscellaneous tools such as nails or screws. Parents of young children can even turn old pasta jars into banks for their children, who may grow excited as they watch the jars gradually fill up with coins.

Plastic milk jugs/water bottles: Gardeners can turn gallon milk jugs that would otherwise go into the recycling bin into watering cans for the plants in their gardens. Water bottles can be reused to water indoor plants.

Takeout containers: The organization Ocean Conservancy notes that single-use plastics, including plastic takeout containers, are among the biggest threats to the world’s oceans. But plastic takeout containers need not be used once and discarded. Many such containers are microwave- and dishwasher-safe, meaning they can be reused over and over. Use such containers to store leftovers or as serving dishes when hosting less formal affairs at home.

Toothbrushes: In lieu of discarding plastic toothbrushes once they’re no longer effective at cleaning teeth, men and women can repurpose them as cleaning utensils to use for hard-to-reach spots. Toothbrushes can be used to clean rims around toilets and to scrub grime between bathroom and kitchen sink fixtures.

Many inexpensive items people are accustomed to discarding can be reused and repurposed, which can help remove tons of garbage from landfills and reduce the amount of plastics that find their way into the world’s oceans.