The Five R’s In An Eco-friendly Life!
I know we’ve all heard “reduce, recycle, re-use” but did you know that there are two other ‘R’s’? They’re as important (if not more so) than the three we’re used to seeing! Incorporate these five “R’s” into your life (in order) and you’re well on your way to a sustainable existence in no time!
That’s right, you read that headline correctly. The most important step in living more sustainably is refusing to accept non-sustainable materials.
- Consider bringing your own “to-go” containers to the deli counter instead of having them put your items in a new container. You can extend this to restaurants too!
- Consider refusing to drive your car one day a week and ride a bicycle or walk wherever you want to go instead.
- Bring your own coffee cup or water bottle instead of using disposable ones
Each year I pick something new or re-dedicate myself to an area that I’ve gotten a little lax on (this year I am re-dedicating myself to the exclusion of plastic in the home). Start with just one thing. When the line is drawn, my mind looks for other ways of achieving the same goals but without plastic. I have replaced all my cooking utensils with either bamboo, steel, ceramic or silicone. All of my pots and pans are free of any non-stick coating and I buy in glass jars or cardboard cartons whenever possible. Last Christmas, my family exchanged gifts without plastic-enhanced wrapping paper. I have linen “produce” bags that I take with me to the store and I use re-usable grocery bags.
If refusing plastic in the whole house is too big for you to take on, try just one area like the kitchen or the living room. Start small and manageable. What is one area in your life you can start refusing non-sustainable materials in today?
What you can’t refuse, greatly reduce! I have immensely reduced the number of non-sustainable items in my house just by being more conscious of the things I purchase. I would love to make ALL of my toiletries. I intend to do just that at some point, but in the meantime… my shampoo, conditioner, tooth-paste, lotions etc… mostly come in plastic bottles. My laundry soap comes in plastic bottles. I buy as clean as I can, but the reality is that sometimes plastic happens. In order to reduce the number of times I buy these bottles, I look for concentrated formulas so that I can extend the use of that single bottle. I also look for alternatives like bio-kleen who makes earth-friendly laundry soap in a cardboard carton instead of a plastic bottle.
What makes it into my house gets re-used whenever possible. Everything from glass jars to card-board boxes to the occasional plastic yogurt container. Occasionally a co-op or other natural grocery store has lotions or other items in bulk so that you can re-fill your existing bottles. I love it when this happens! I haven’t bought a new almond-butter or peanut-butter jar in years! I just wash and re-use the one I have!
Instead of buying new or throwing out a piece of furniture or other household item, consider if it would be useful in some other function. A prime example of re-purposing is the buffet I turned into a kitchen Island. I have a book-case that wouldn’t fit in my living room, so instead of tossing it, I put it in my shed for shelving. Instead of throwing out my old fence planks, I turned them into a strawberry planter that functions as a gate between my front and back yard. What might you re-purpose instead of buying new or throwing out?
Lastly, anything you can’t refuse, reduce, re-use or re-purpose, go ahead and recycle. Notice how recycling is last on the list? Recycling is a great tool, but it is costly from both an environmental and resource standpoint. It takes a lot of chemicals and energy to recycle. It’s still a better option than a landfill! Before you purchase something though, consider whether it actually can BE recycled. Flanged (wider at top than at the bottom) containers or bottles can’t actually be recycled. It’s why I primarily buy glass yogurt containers, they can actually be recycled.
Now you have a 5 step process to make your life a little crunchier without having to drastically alter your existence. Sustainable alternatives are out there! With a little consideration, a touch of planning and a dash of action, your life can be more sustainable by the next grocery shopping excursion!
How do YOU plan on using the 5 R’s in your life this week? Please let me know in the comment section!
I’d love to hear about it!