by Alice Carroll
You might have heard of the three R’s- reduce, reuse, recycle- but they’re actually in this order for a very specific reason. They’re in order of what’s best for our planet. When we reduce, we lower the amount of waste produced. This is the best option because then we have less materials and products that are left over that need to be reused and recycled. A great first step to reducing is meal planning- deciding what meals you’ll have each week and buying just what you need. Trying to reduce your waste can actually be better on your wallet and the environment.
Reuse and recycle sound pretty similar, but there are actually some major differences that show why reusing is way greener than recycling. Recycling means creating new, raw materials from old items that usually make a completely new product. Some examples of recycling include insulation made from newspaper and plastic bottles, or fiberglass made from old glass bottles. This is great and all, but it takes so much energy to make these new products.
Reusing is when we take an old item and use it again, without all of the energy-consuming treatment. Reusing involves way less waste and pollution, so it’s even better for the environment. The Scrap Exchange is the perfect example of what it means to reuse. A place where you can buy secondhand items ranging from bicycles to boots, fedoras to fabrics, records to ribbon, and sweaters to sewing kits is what reusing is all about. Reusing isn’t about repurposing the materials that make an object, but actually repurposing the object itself.
When you reuse, instead of recycle, you save all of the energy that would be needed to re-manufacture products. This also reduces pollution and waste because the need for raw materials is reduced, which saves water and forest supplies.
Not only is reusing better for our planet than recycling, but it’s way more fun than putting something into a recycling bin! You can turn old glass bottled into painted vases, make side tables from vintage suitcases, transform a chair into a towel rack, and crop, paint, and embroider plain old clothes into new trendy pieces. When you reuse, the results are endless and one-of-a-kind!