Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: How to REDUCE?

February 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Ok, The mantra for anyone claiming to know about (and write about) GREEN living, is “REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE”. Seems a pretty obvious phrase. Reduce what we use, Reuse what we can, Recycle the rest. The trick is, of course, in the application. There are some folks out there who have taken this to an extreme that the rest of us can only shake our heads at. They are living “off the grid” and growing their own food. The rest of us? Sorry, we have jobs to go to, kids to haul to soccer practice, and our favorite shows to TiVo. So… what does REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE mean to a “practically Green” person like me? That’s the whole point of this blog.

Let’s look at each work in this phrase and see where we can go with it.

REDUCE: hmmm, reduce what we use. Easy enough, but where to start? Let’s look at this another way. Reduce what we DON’T use. For us “practically green” types, the first step in REDUCE is to eliminate the stuff in our lives that we don’t use. Like… plastic bags for the groceries (and everything else you buy). It’s easy and in more and more stores, you get a rebate for bringing your own bags. In fact, I switched grocery stores because Mega-Mart #1 didn’t recognize my small contribution to the fight and Mega-Mart #2 gave me “in store cash” worth a nickel for every bag I brought with me.

A nickel?

Hardly seems worth it. Let’s put that in context of cost and benefit. First, you can actually REUSE (I know, the next article is on REUSE, but bear with me) the bags that you got the last time you went. I’ve found they survive about 3 trips before tearing out with the cheap lightweight variety. The heavier weight ones, (like from mega bookstores) will last numerous trips. I use on average 3 bags at the store each time. So, I get $0.15 USD for my effort, no time involved, and no expense.

Better option is to scrounge up those bags you’ve accumulated as give-aways for just being you. Without buying a single bag, I now have collected 7-8 cloth bags of various levels of sturdiness. I can put more groceries in each bag than the cheap plastic and don’t have to make as many trips to the car to retrieve the groceries. I’d say it’s a winner!

WORST case, you have to buy cloth bags. Your local mega-mart is probably selling them for $1USD each. Insulated bags for bringing home the Ben and Jerry’s might run $5. It will take only 20 trips to the store to pay for that regular bag at a nickel each time you use it. AND now you have a bag to use at the local farmer’s market, etc, etc. Hold the thought on the insulated bag – I’m not recommending purchasing that – I have a better idea. But that’s for another article!

But wait, there’s MORE! Now that we’re all thinking about ways to REDUCE consumption, or NONconsumption, where else can we REDUCE without actually giving up something? Consider…

  • Water in shower
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Keeping hot stuff hot (and cold stuff cold)
  • Unplugging the vampires- all of those power adapters that are plugged into the wall, but not into your cell phone (except when it’s charging)

What have I missed? Send in comments and let’s add more entries! As we get the articles added, I will come back and link them into this one!

Next post: REUSE

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