Simple Ways to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Written by Bridget Joyce
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Where there's Muck, there's Brass Where there's Muck, there's Brass by Nick Wheeler on flickr!

You hear it all the time - "the three R's" in the world of everything green. But what does it really mean to "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle?" Here, you will learn what it means to put these three terms to use. Did you know: the more you reduce, the less you need to reuse; the more you reuse, the less you need to recycle; and the more you recycle, the less waste there will be! But it all starts with reducing as much as you possibly can. Make it a game! Involve your kids, see how little waste you can have at each garbage collection. Try to have less and less each month until you reach your ultimate goal.


Reduction is easily the most important step but it is also the most challenging and time-consuming. The thought of this may be a bit overwhelming, but once you have learned to reduce the amount of waste-producing products in your household, it will be much easier to reuse what you can and recycle the rest and end up with as little rubbish as possible.

In order to properly reduce, you have to start off by purchasing less. When you are at the grocery store, consciously think - "do I really need this?" You will be surprised that many times, the answer is no. Reduction can lead to not only a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but also a healthier one as well. This is true because it will cause you to purchase healthy food that create less rubbish such as fresh fruits and vegetables and minimize the amount of pre-packaged items such as potato chips, candies, and other unhealthy snacks.

If simply having healthier foods doesn't convince you to be committed to reduction, consider this: psychologists believe that the less "stuff" we have in our households, the happier we will be. People get overwhelmed by "things." Whether this means too many "knick knacks" on your shelves or too many non-eco friendly items piling up like paper cups, napkins, paper towels, and soap bottles. So what can one do to help solve this problem? Reduce, reduce, reduce! Having less meaningless items or waste products around the house will certainly make you happier but, psychologists also believe that the simple act of clearing all that clutter will also offer a significant boost in happiness! In other words, no need to wait for spring to start that "spring cleaning." Try it right now! For more information on happiness and reduction, check out this TED talk:

Here are some more ideas for reduction:

  • Always use glass or re-usable cups
  • Drink water from a re-usable water bottle
  • Compost!
  • Don't buy paper napkins, use cloth instead
  • Avoid items that are individually wrapped such as yogurts and puddings. Instead, purchase one large tub of these items and serve them in a glass dish!

Of course, it is simply not possible to purely reduce; otherwise, you would have nothing! So, try to think about what things you have which you are not using anymore and instead of throwing them away, think about how they can be reused! This can range from refilling water or soda bottles rather than buying new ones, to using what you may think of as garbage (egg crates and crisp bags) for storage or for your children's art projects! Consider purchasing some reusable bags for grocery shopping. Or, dig up some old bags you may already have. This will not only help you to reuse but will also save you from having to purchase plastic bags!

Recycling is the last step in the three R's. Before you throw anything in the trash, think, "can this be recycled?" Paper, bottles, cans, etc. can all be put in their designated recycling bins. If you are unsure of whether something can be recycled, remember to check the packaging for the recycling symbol.

For more questions on recycling or to simply learn more about sorting and collection in your commune visit this link (you can choose the English version available). You will be able to get all the information you need right here or you will be redirected to the website of your commune where you can learn exactly what you need to do to recycle.

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