The three Rs of waste hierarchy include reduce, reuse, and recycle. Sometimes the hierarchy is extended into four: reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover. The waste hierarchy classify waste management strategies according to their desirability or order of importance. The ultimate aims of the three Rs are to cut down the amount of waste we throw away and conserve natural resources, energy, and landfill space. Communities and cities save land and money to dispose waste in landfills by following the three Rs. Environmental regulations, public opposition, and high cost make it very difficult to create and locate new landfills. Thus, it is necessary to reduce waste disposal to extend the life span of landfills.

Listed below are ways on how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle. If you have other ideas in mind, you can share them by leaving a message in the comment box below.

Waste Hierarchy(56857)Credit: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Wikimedia Commons

Ways on How to Reduce

To reduce means to buy less and use less. This can be done by shopping carefully and following a few guidelines:[167][168]

  • Buying products in bulk or in larger economy sizes is highly recommended because they use less packaging and save you cash.

  • Don't buy over-packaged products especially those with several non biodegradable packaging materials such as paper, plastic, and aluminum foil. You may end up paying more for the packaging materials which are also difficult to recycle.

  • Use dish cloth instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper napkins

  • Instead of printing announcements/information for every office colleague, use electronic mail or the main bulletin board for mass dissemination of information. This saves a lot of paper as well as ink and electricity.

  • Print in two-sided copies (duplex printing) whenever possible to save paper.

  • Purchase durable goods that can be used for longer period of time. This will not only save you money but will also save landfill space.

  • To save cash and reduce waste disposal, avoid using disposable goods such as paper plates, cups, napkins, razors, lighters, plastic spoon and fork, and the like.

  • Buy and use products that can be reused such as bottles (instead of cans) and batteries.

  • Instead of throwing or incinerating unwanted items, be generous enough to donate them to family, friends, neighbors, and charitable organizations. You can even sell them to recycling centers or to the original manufacturer.

Ways on How to Reuse

Before discarding a particular item, think of ways on how you can reuse it for other purposes. Use your creativity to think of ways on how to extend the life of a used item. Economically, and environmentally, it makes sense to reuse products. Here are ways on how you can reuse:[167][168]

  • Sell or donate your old appliances, clothes, and furniture instead of throwing them away.

  • Instead of using paper coffee cup, use ceramic coffee mug.

  • If you go to the grocery store, use cloth bags or reuse the grocery bags from your last visit to the grocery store.

  • Scrap papers can be used to make sketches and notes.

  • Used wood can be used in making furniture and other woodcraft. They can also be used as firewood alternatively.

  • By rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones because they can be reused many times.

  • Newspaper, cardboard, and bubble wraps can be used as packing materials when moving house.

  • Empty bottles and jars can be used as containers for liquid and solid stuffs.

  • Repair damaged furniture and appliances before buying new ones.

Ways on How to Recycle

In recycling, a particular discard is separated into different materials that will be used in creating new products. Unlike reusing, recycling uses energy to change the physical materials of a waste material. There are two types of recycling: upcycling and downcycling. Upcycling involves the conversion of a low-value material into a high-value product while downcycling involves the conversion of a valuable product into low-value raw materials. Upcycling is considered more desirable compared to downcycling. There are various ways on how to recycle which include the following:[167][168]

  • Purchase products that can be recycled such as glass bottles and jars as well as tin cans.

  • Purchase products that are made up of recycled materials. You can tell if a product is made up of recycled material by looking at the labeling or packaging.

  • Avoid purchasing hazardous products as they are difficult to recycle. Buy environment friendly and safer alternatives. Certain brands of detergents, bleach, and household cleaners are hazardous; fortunately, there are safer alternatives.

  • Make a compost using biodegradable wastes from the kitchen. You can use the compost to maintain your garden plants.

  • Instead of throwing grass and plant cuttings, leave them in your garden to decompose and become organic fertilizer for your plants.

  • Find ways to recycle different materials such as glass, plastic, paper, furniture, electronic equipments, building materials, and vehicles. You can coordinate with local recycling facilities, community recycling projects, and recycling for charity projects.