We’ve all heard of it since grade school. The popular concept of “3R” refers to the three activities related to waste management, “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Just like a good motto, it is a reminder of how we should take care of our environment and treat it with respect.
According to many pre-baby boomers, the practice of reducing, reusing, and recycling were made famous in the 1950s when the economic boom resulted to a lot of litter and waste (due to the Americans popularizing the single use of items). Lucky for us, environmentalists and ordinary citizens alike soon realized the dire consequences we humans can suffer from if we do not take care of the environment.
With this, they started implementing the now popular waste management strategy. But what really is the 3R strategy?
Reduce: “Cut Back”
The first R which is “Reduce” refers to the cutting back of waste. Reducing is probably the easiest of all three. All you have to do here is to create as less waste as you can. Waste reduction is a step towards achieving sustainable development and Dr. Gill. Seyfang, PhD., explains that “innovation and community action are two important strands for sustainable development.” From this, we can understand that waste reduction requires communal effort and is also responsible for effecting radical changes in the society.
An example of this would be you bringing your tumbler in Starbucks when you order your favorite drink, or you bringing your lunch box the next time you order takeout food from the nearby Chinese restaurant.
Reducing can also be as simple as you not buying things that you don’t need (which I’m sure a lot of us are very guilty of), or using electronic mail instead of snail mail in reaching out to someone. The list goes on and on. The key here is to prevent yourself (and others) from using plastic bags and containers since plastic pollution is very harmful to the environment.
Reuse: “Use Again”
Dr. Purva Tavri, PhD., investigated the perceptions of “reuse.” She concluded that “based on the type of materials and type of sectors, reuse – as a human action – could be considered as providing a solution to the seemingly irreconcilable dichotomy of reducing waste production while maintaining economic growth, in order to achieve absolute decoupling.”
Reuse, as the word suggests, refers to utilizing old items that can be used again in other activities. Your eco bag is a good example. When you bring your bag to the grocery store, you won’t have to ask for plastic bags anymore, right? Your old Pringles can be also something we can use as an example. Since the shape of the product resembles that of a pen holder, maybe you can use some of your artistic skill and creativity and turn that Pringles container into a stylish pen or accessories holder. What do you think?
However, As compared to the aforementioned “reduction,” Dr. Bruce Welt, PhD., upholds a different view in his research as he visualizes that, “designing packaging for “Reuse” directly contradicts “Reduce,” since more material is needed to toughen packaging for abusive reuse handling. Ultimately, the life of even the most stoutly designed reuse packaging ends, which brings us back to square one.”
Lastly, another example would be using your old t-shirt as a rug or a window cleaner. That way, you won’t have to buy any more, and you contribute to our first step, which is “reduce”. Reusing is primarily using something again, so this might not be too hard.
The last of the 3R strategy might be the most familiar to you since it is the most publicized one. We are talking about “recycle” or “recycling”, which refers to the reprocessing of recyclable materials (such as soda cans, water bottles, etc.,) into new products or materials. I’m sure you’ve already heard advertisements from large companies inviting you to bring in your recyclable wastes to their offices so that they can turn it into bags, cabinets, or tables. That is recycling.
The most common items that people recycle are cereal cardboard boxes, steel cans, milk bottles, or laundry detergent bottles, among others. In this last step, we help the environment by reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills. It also conserves our natural resources, decreases pollution, and cuts down the amount of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere.
It is always never too late to take care of the environment if you do it now. Remember, “the key to a greener planet is in your hands.”