Sunday, 26 June 2011

Reuse, Recycle AND Reduce?

I had a recent ah-ha moment.  For the past 25 years we've been thoroughly taught in North America to practice the 3R's -  Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  I think that the recycle part of the three is really a no-brainer.  Various regions have different levels of recycling ability and I happen to live in a city where we can recycle pretty much everything.  Reusing makes a lot of common sense too.  The environmentally conscious citizen makes reusing an everyday practice.

But what about the third "R" - Reducing?  What are you doing to reduce the waste that you create by living in our modern society?  I haven't given much thought to this more abstract way to contributing to a smaller footprint.  On a recent trip to the mall, I was surprised that in the food court, the only things that could be recycled were glass and plastic drinking containers.  All of the Styrofoam containers, forks, spoons, knives, boxes, fountain drink cups, plastic lids and straws go straight to the landfill.  I figured I had one of three choices - don't eat there (and that wasn't an option with that Pad Thai on my mind!), carry the containers home with me and dispose of them in my own recycling bin, or reduce the garbage I carried to my table. 

If everyone gave 5 seconds thought to how the decisions we make could be made better in order to reduce our waste, we'd be making a huge dent in the problem. Do I need a plastic or paper bag to carry my order to the table?  Can I order a drink in a recyclable bottle instead of a fountain pop container that goes in the trash?   What am I ordering and what kind of garbage comes with it?  These may not be great examples of how to change the world, but the point is this:  Are you thinking about how your small and insignificant actions could be slightly altered to reduce reduce reduce? 

Another very practical thing that I recently learned that falls into this category, is how to drive.  I recently purchased a Toyota Prius because I was due for a new car and wanted to make a good choice (I'm not looking to debate here about how "manufacturing a Prius is worse for the environment" - because my research indicates that this is really not the case).  My new Prius came equipped with a consumption meter on the dash board display that tells me exactly how efficiently I've driven over the duration of a tank of fuel, or even minute by minute should I want to be that specific.  What I didn't realize was just how drastic my actions behind the wheel make me a much more efficient driver.  Without that little display, I'd never have known how much this saves.    You can drastically reduce your fuel consumption by coasting to a red light, driving the speed limit (this is a huge one), coasting down hills, accelerating then coasting.  People don't even realize you're doing it, but trust me, the results are worth it - and you don't need a Prius to reduce your gas expense and go further on that tank. 

I challenge you to consider how you can reduce your impact on the environment everyday.  The challenge is fun and the contribution you make feels great!

Here's a great little website that I found with many practical ideas for how to reduce, reuse and recycle, and how to encourage companies to work together with us in making a greater change.  Click HERE.

If you have any ideas you'd like me to hi-light here on my blog, send me a quick email HERE.

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