Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

For quite some time now, schools have been teaching the concept of reduce, reuse, recycle in the hope that by ensuring that the younger generation are aware of this approach, more people both now and in the future will adopt it. Let’s consider what the three Rs of the recycling process are both in general and in more detail.

Reduce refers to the need to use fewer products that are made of plastic whilst reuse relates to using products that are recyclable as many times as you can and, when that’s not possible, the recycle element means that anything and everything that is destined to be thrown away but is recyclable should be put into the correct recycling bin.

Now let’s have a look how to successfully apply the three important Rs of recycling.


Basically, if we always paid attention to the need to reduce the number of resources we use in our daily lives, then there would be much less need to reuse and recycle. This is why the reduce element of the three Rs is the most effective although it has to be said that since it requires a little more thought and planning, it can be the most difficult because it means forgoing a certain amount of convenience. Many of the things we use in our everyday lives are made from plastic because it’s such a cheap and easy material for manufacturers and packagers to use.  This being the case, it’s probably impossible to avoid using plastic altogether but there are certainly ways to reduce the amount you currently use.

If you consider the items you purchase, you’ll realise that they’re almost certainly disposable but how about if every time you bought something, you thought about how it could be reused after coming to the end of its initial purpose? In doing this, you will basically reduce your consumption in the future. Yes, the initial investment may be a little higher – for example, refillable water bottles and reusable shopping bags – but in the long term you will actually save money because these types of products won’t need to be replaced very often. The key then is to buy items of better quality that will last for a good while and can be used again and again.



So this leads nicely onto the reuse element of the 3 Rs and the need to reuse everything and anything as much as possible, even if it’s just writing your shopping list on a used envelope, every little helps. In the kitchen, wash out the plastic containers that Indian and Chinese takeaways come in and use them to either freeze or refrigerate leftover meals and don’t throw empty jam jars away, use them as containers for bits and bobs. Meanwhile, in the garden, if you have room start to make a compost heap with your food scraps or otherwise make sure you put them in the appropriate recycling bin.

As we mentioned in the reduce advice, making sure you reuse shopping bags can make a huge difference to the amount of plastic you use. OK, so sometimes we forget to take one of these into the shop with us and end up having to ask for one of those nasty thin plastic bags to carry our supplies home. It’s important not to throw these away though – reuse them for lining a rubbish or paper bin or to put your lunch in when you go to work. The key here is to make sure that you that before you throw away anything – be it made of paper or plastic – always try to find an alternative use for it. 


This is perhaps one of the easiest and more frequently used ways of disposing of waste to ensure less rubbish finds its way to landfill sites, particularly if its plastic or paper.  Most of us have recycling bins that are collected every week or fortnight so it’s fairly easy to separate anything that is recyclable – plastic, glass, paper, tin cans, cardboard – and put into the appropriate recycling bin. Obviously there will always be items that need special treatment such as batteries or electrical goods but you can soon find out which recycling sites will accept these by checking online. Your local council will also be a good source of information as to what you can and can’t put in recycling bins for collection.

What you can reduce, reuse and recycle

As we’ve just mentioned, the local council should offer specific guidance on what can be recycled but nevertheless there are certain items that need special attention because although they can be recycled, a better approach may be to think how the use of these can be reduced or if you can perhaps reuse them.


Take, for example items that are made of metal, many of which can’t be reused but their use can be reduced. As an example, rather than buying the smaller sized cans of vegetables and tinned fruit, opt for the larger size, use what you want then store what is left in the fridge to use another day.


Looking at cardboard, which we all seem to have more of given the trend for online shopping, nearly all of this can be recycled. You can either cut or fold it up and put it in the appropriate recycling bin or, if it’s just too big to do that, simply leave it alongside the recycling bin to be collected. Alternatively you could find a local recycling centre if that’s easier.


Aside from cardboard, almost every other thing that is made from paper can be recycled whether its newspapers, magazines, office paperwork or all that junk mail that comes through the letterbox. Again, your local council will specify exactly what paper products can be laced in your recycling bin. You could go one step further and as well as recycling paper products that you can’t reuse, try reducing your consumption of these as well. Do you actually read those magazines that you receive on subscription? Can you opt out of receiving junk mail with your postal service?

Glass, plastic and electronics

Anything that is made of glass or plastic can be placed in your recycling bins for collection – just make sure they have been rinsed out if they’ve been used for food otherwise they can’t be recycled.

If you have an old computer or television, it really is worth finding out if these can be sold for upgrade or repair or taken to a recycling centre before you simply decide to dispose of them. 


Post by Svetlana Lungu

Why Matters Shopify agency