It all started when...

"K" cups for coffee. Brita water filters. 

The First ‘R’ – Reduce

The concept of reducing what is produced and what is consumed is essential to the waste hierarchy. The logic behind it is simple to understand – if there is less waste, then there is less to recycle or reuse. The process of reducing begins with an examination of what you are using, and what it is used for. There are three simple steps to assessing the reduction value of an item or process –

  • Is there something else that can be used for this purpose? Using multi-use items is essential to beginning reduction. One example would be a coffeepot and a cappuccino maker. Both of them do distinctly different things, but you can buy a coffeepot that has a steaming attachment on it so it can do both. The purchase of the one item means that you don’t use two. It reduces the amount of production, and the amount of waste packaging material that will be generated.
  • Is this something that needs to be done? A lot of our waste material comes from items that are considered to be “disposable.” Not in the sense that you use something once and then throw it away, that can actually be a part of environmental responsibility when you are working with medical items – disposable in this sense means whether or not what the item allows you to do has any real meaning or purpose.
  • Is the item a part of something that you need to do, or want to do in your life? There is a limit to what you need to be prepared for in life. Chances are you won’t need a car that is equipped to handle a sandstorm in the desert. Buying one encourages production, wastes your resources and creates more generative waste than you can imagine. Always make sure that what you consume, or keep in your life as preparation – matches the reality of potential opportunity in your life.

Here are some of things you can do to reduce the waste:

1. Print on both sides of the paper to reduce paper wastage.

2. Use electronic mail to reach out to people instead of sending paper mail.

3. Remove your name from the mailing lists that you no longer want to receive.

4. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.

5. Avoid using disposable plates, spoons, glass, cups and napkins. They add to the problem and result in large amount of waste.

6. Avoid buying items that are over-packaged with foil, paper, and plastic. This excess packaging goes to waste.

7. Buy durable goods that have long warranty. They generally run longer and save landfill space.

Number 3 deals with the problems created by living within a culture of consumerism. This type of consumption driven culture also makes fulfilling the second “R” difficult, but it is getting easier to do.