The 3 Rs - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

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We should all be familiar with the "saying", Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - especially for this topic! But what do they really mean, and are there any more?

The First R, Reduce

In short, this means that we are to reduce and cut down all the plastic that we use on a day-to-day life. For example, instead of buying water bottles like Evian's or Buxton's, then throwing them away (also known as single-use plastics, like straws), you could buy a re-usable waterbottle, and fill it up each time you need it. The logic behind it is really quite simple - if there is no or less plastic used, then there is less to recycle or reuse.

So, "Reduce" means using fewer resources in the first place.

For example:

  • Instead of buying single-use products, opt for multi-use ones
  • Limit the amount of plastic you buy; look for alternatives, such as paper straws instead of plastic ones
  • Instead of buying packaged items in your daily shop, buy the loose ones
  • Use electronic (e) mails to reach out to people if possible instead of sending paper mail
  • Like the above, ask for paperless billing

Doing at least some of the above five will make a big difference; I watched a documentry on the BBC where they looked at a street in Bristol (22 houses) and just the kitchen non-reusable plastics they found by themselves add up to a immense amount - far greater than it should be; 7,145. AND THIS IS JUST ONE STREET!

The Second R, Reuse

This really just explaines itself. Whether it's toys, or printing on both sides of the paper, we can all find at least a few things to reuse in our homes. This "R" is really quite fun and artistic, I think, because you can reuse just about anything and make it into art; milk bottles into elephants, or cups into blue whales - just imagine and invent!

The Second R is really quite simple, because we do it mostly. For example, if you like football, or keep a football at home - well done! You are reusing, aren't you? Although some balls may be plastic, you aren't exactly going to throw it away after one kick.

Before you dispose of something, always look at the life left inside it.

You could reuse...

  • Newspaper: You could use newspaper when wraping a gift (a retro design, perhaps?) or being used to carry objects when moving home, or simply around
  • Envelopes: We, I certainly, tend to throw away or rip up then throw away envelopes sinece there's not much use - is there? Wrong! You could use them for drafts of something - a letter perhaps - or doodles, instead of wasting a whole piece of paper
  • Old clothes: Donate them to charity! A man's (/woman's) rubbish is another man's (/woman's) gold!
  • Used wood: You could use this for camp-fires as firewood, or woodcrafts etc.
  • Purchase a Bag For Life from your local store(a Bag For Life is a plastic bag (I know, i know, but listen!!) that you van use forever, and once it gets broken or damaged, you give it back to the store, and tehy will recycle it for you, and get you a new one!)


if you have a garden, perhaps think about building a compost bin, and putting all your leftovers, peelings of fruit and/or veg, and even tea-bags. That way, the waste degrades and turns into compost that help your plants grow and shine.

The Last (or is it?) R, Recycle

As we all (hopefully!) know, to recycle something means that it will be transformed again into a raw material that can be shaped into a new item. If people are careless and don't bother to recycle, then those plastics will be thrown into the ocean, finding itself in one of the many garbage patches across the world. In my previous post, I explained what a bottle would be going through after finding itself in one of those.

There are, however, very few materials on the Earth that cannot be recycled. One of the issues facing communities that want to become more involved with a recycling effort is that while the relying collection and sorting process may be affordable to enforce, there still has to be a facility to recieve and transform the disposed waste into a raw material.

For example, you can...

  • Invent and experiment with new ways to recycle different items (like me!)
  • Avoid buying hazardous materials that could pose as a difficulty for you to recycle
  • Buy products that can be recycled; such as glass jars
  • Try to identify and buy products that are made of recycled items, meaning the product should be enviromentally friendly.
  • Use recycled paper for printing or making paper handicrafts.

Although we might think that there are only 3 Rs I have made up one more (I'm not too sure if it's a thing - but I certainly haven't heard of it *yet*):

The Fourth R, Refuse

Basically, the idea of this is to refuse single-use plastic items. For example, if a waiter/waitress gives you a plastic straw, specifically ask for a paper one, or for none.

I think this is quite a good thing, because we, as children, are only ever taught to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but really the real problem lies when we are accepting all these plastic products.

You can...

  • Do the previous 3 R's as much as possible
  • Use alternatives for the plastic products you use in your life
  • Buy loose products instead of those packaged with plastic (like I stated before)
  • Use a paper bag, nets, or perhaps straw baskets when carrying your shopping
  • Try to avoid disposable cutlery, cups or plates whenever possible (even if it means extra washing-up!)

In conclusion, we all really need to recycle, and do all of the 3 Rs, plus the extra fourth, as they will make a massive difference to the planet.

After all...

There is no Planet B.

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