By Alisa Reckinger
You know about the three Rs and how important they are. Reducing the amount of items we own and the amount of waste we create, means less stuff will end up in the garbage. Reusing what we can gives our items another life and keeps them out of the trash. Recycling takes a variety of materials and puts them to good use, helping the economy, creating jobs and manufacturing new products. You may have the mantra of “reduce, reuse and recycle” down, but there are more Rs you can add to your routine.
JUST SAY NO
Refuse! Bringing a reusable shopping bag is a great way to cut down on how much you end up with. A big part of living a zero waste lifestyle is refusing what you do not need. What else can you refuse? Remove yourself from junk mail lists to cut down on paper.
BORROW, DON’T BUY
Be mindful of the life cycle of any item you purchase or acquire. Where did it come from and where will it end up? There are tons of options for borrowing and sharing to help reduce how much stuff you own. Choose to reuse as much as you can.
The sharing economy is bigger than ever. Access a wide variety of items and services only when you need them. If you need books, movies or magazines, visit your local library. You can even set up your own little free library in your neighborhood. Toys take up lots of space and are often non-recyclable. Try using a resource like the toy sharing library in Minneapolis or set up a hand-me-down network. Instead of giving gifts that someone won’t use or need, provide experiential gifts that create fun memories, not waste.
CHOOSE TO FIX IT
When things become worn or stop working, they often end up in the trash. By fixing and maintaining the items in our homes, we can keep them functioning longer. This way, you will have other options, like donation or resale, instead of adding them to the waste stream. Bring your items to county fix-it clinics for help or use online repair resources. You can even borrow the tools you need from local resources like the Minnesota Tool Library.
Extend the life-cycle of an item you may no longer need by selling or donating it. Networks like Nextdoor allow you to interact with other users in your neighborhood to communicate and exchange items and services.
Craigslist and Facebook also have ways to sell your items and buy used items online. For safety’s sake, it’s recommended to only deal with people locally and use sanctioned exchange locations, like the swap spot in Hennepin County.
By refusing and repairing, you make it much easier to reduce items you don’t need and reuse items you already have. Always look for more ways to reduce and keep working to create less waste and make sure your items are recycled as much as possible. Do a zero waste challenge or waste audit. Are there items you could do without? Commit to your decision to reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, refuse, and review by sharing your story. Be proud of your achievements.
Minnesotans recycle over 2.3 million tons of paper, glass, metals, plastics, yard waste, and more each year, which create new products, such as cans, cardboard, newspaper, carpet, clothing and furniture. RethinkRecycling.com, provided by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, is your go-to guide for waste and recycling in the Twin Cities.