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Mixed waste on a sidewalk


#Recycle #reduce #Reuse #terminology


Valencia Meredith

The purpose of reduce-reuse-recycle is beyond simply reducing waste, reusing items, and recycling recyclables. Reducing, reusing, and recycling have long-lasting effects that benefit you and the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), by reducing and reusing waste, you are contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving water and energy use for new raw materials harvesting, decreasing waste in landfills, and allowing products to be used to their full potential.

There are a plethora of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle within the home. According to the City of Whitewater, to reduce waste you can start by only purchasing food items that you need, leading to less food and packaging waste. In the office, you can pack a waste-free lunch by using glass containers to hold your food. To reuse, you can purchase and donate used clothing and furniture, reducing your carbon footprint. If you are remodeling your home, you can donate unwanted cabinets, lighting, lumber, and appliances to resale shops. Lastly, for recycling, make sure to recycle recyclable items — meaning plastic, glass, cardboard, and paper materials that do not have fluids or non-recyclable items attached (such as a bottle top on a plastic water bottle).

It should be noted that a recent study done by Greenpeace found that most plastics are non-recyclable. American households generated 51 million tons of plastic waste and only 2.8 million were recycled (Greenpeace). Additionally, the rate of plastic recycling has declined by 5-6% since 2014. This study shows that we are recycling less and not using recycled items to their full potential. The good news is you can do more. You can take the steps to improve the recycling process by purchasing items with little to no plastic packaging and reusing already-present items within your home, repurposing them for other household needs.

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