Reduce, reuse, and recycle

Lesson 28: Waste land reclamation, consumerism

Reduce, reuse, and recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle or the 3R’s principle, is the new concept in the waste management. Although some waste is inevitable in any society, we must minimize the generation of waste at the source by using minimal resources. Do not use what you do not need. The goal of every society should be reach a low-waste or no-waste society. The residual waste can be converted into a useable resource. Thus, the waste does not remain a waste product anymore, but become a useful resource e.g., using kitchen wet waste to make compost that can be used as an organic fertilizer, or using sewage in a biogas plant to make fuel. One industry’s waste could be a valuable resource for another industry.

The 3R principle of Reduce, Refuge, Recycle, should be followed in that order.

  • Reduction is the best option. If we reduce at source, there is a smaller chance of waste generation and the pressure on our already stretched natural resources is reduced.
  • Reduce is the next best option, as the product is reused in its current form without any energy expended to convert it into a new item.
  • Recycling is the last option, as although it converts a waste into a resource, it uses energy to transform that resource into a new usable product.
  • Thus, by following the ‘3R’ principle, i.e., by reducing use at source, by reusing and recycling whatever possible and finally by proper disposal of residual waste, we can cut down or the waste generated and ensure that the minimal residual waste does not harm our environment. This principle can be followed by everyone, from an individual or an industry to a whole country.

Ways of following 3R principle:

  • Use only as much as you need, be it any resource – water, food, paper, etc.
  • Next time you throw away something, think about whether it is really a waste. If it is of no use to you, could someone else use it? Reuses rinse water to water your garden; donate old clothes to the needy, instead of throwing them away.
  • If you are sure the item is not usable in its present form, can it be recycled? Paper, plastics, glass, metal can all be recycled.
  • Segregate your waste into wet and dry garbage. Wet garbage includes most kitchen wastes. Most of this can be used for composting, while most dry garbage is recyclable.

The amount of dry waste generated in your household is an indicator of how well you are following the 3R principle. A lot of dry waste means you should go back to the ‘Reduce and Reuse’ principles and try to follow them better.

  • As far as possible, avoid using of non – biodegradable materials such as Styrofoam and certain types of plastics. Although most plastics are recyclable, recycling still takes up energy, which is another precious resource not to be wasted. If thrown away as waste, Styrofoam and plastics can take hundreds of years to decompose.
  • Do not litter or throw garbage in public places. Garbage and litter is a visual contaminant and can cause diseases and health problems. The proper disposal of garbage is an important part of waste management.
  • Be a conscious consumer and do not buy products that are over – packaged. Try choosing products that are made from recycled material or are organically grown.

Last modified: Thursday, 5 January 2012, 10:21 AM