When I was a kid, we were simply taught the 3 R’s of recycling: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In my zero waste journey, I have now found that there is in some cases up to 7 R’s now. So here I go breaking them down for you guys.
So to begin we have the original three, two of which are not included in the 7 R’s articles that I have been finding online. Those two are reduce and recycle. Weird right? I mean, they are the R’s of recycling and you aren’t going to include recycle as one of them? But, because I learned them as a kid in school, they are going into this list.
Reduce is asking you to reduce your overall consumption in an effort to reduce the waste produce. I liken reduce to minimalism.
Reducing is simple when you just start the habit of questioning your purchases and asking yourself, “Do I really need this? Will I use this item more than 30 times?” If the answer is no, don’t buy it.
You can reduce your overall consumption by questioning your purchases and resisting impulse buying. Before purchasing, give yourself at least a day or two to cool off.
Reuse is simple. Stop buying disposables and opt for reusables. Reusing an item is how earlier generations made the most of limited resources in less wealthy and consumer-convenient times.
Reusing can also become a habit by asking yourself some questions. For example, when going to grab those disposable cotton rounds for your bathroom, ask yourself, “Is there another item that I already have that I could use instead?”
The answer is simply yes! A lot of people could just use a designated wash cloth for all their makeup remover or toner applying needs.
This is for the stuff that you can’t reuse anymore, when the stuff you have is at the end of its life. Don’t chuck it in the garbage bin unless you have to. Otherwise recycle and give that material a brand new life.
And now some of the newer R’s:
Our lives are full of stuff we don’t need, and each thing has an environmental cost. So be thoughtful when buying, use the power of your dollar to tell companies what you want and don’t want. If they notice people going towards more environmentally friendly products, perhaps they too will make the switch.
Another name for repurpose is upcycling, or DIY. Simply take something you are no longer using and alter it for another more practical use. Think using jelly jars as drinking glasses, or an aluminum can as a utensil holder.
Rot is definitely a new one, but is has to deal with taking advantage of composting waste such as food scraps, newspaper, and biodegradable and compostable packaging. Not everyone will be able to take advantage of this R, since composting is harder to do when you live in a dorm or an apartment, but it is certainly something that is worth mentioning.
Repair is a great addition to the R’s of recycling. This could be sewing a button back on a shirt instead of throwing is away, or fixing something around the house. Next time you find something in disrepair consider whether you can easily repair it or know someone who could. If you have purchased something from a company with a take-back program you’ll have the option to return it instead of throwing it away, like LUSH’s black pot program.
To me, refill is just another way of stating the R of reuse. Refill is similar to reuse because we’re encouraged to use containers again. One way to refill is using your own containers when buying food in bulk at stores with that option.
Hopefully this helps you find new ways to recycle your stuff and come closer to your zero waste goals. Do your research from other blogs and videos, because you can learn a new trick every single time.