Monday, March 22, 2010
Reduce, Precycle, Refuse, Reuse, Compost, Recycle - In that order
Reduce your purchasing and consumption overall. Ask yourself, Do I really need it? Will I be happier having it? Why am I buying or using this? How many hours do I need to work to pay for this?
Precycle. Consider the packaging, life-cycle and end of life use before purchasing. Is it a cradle-to-cradle (resourse to resource) item or a cradle-to-grave (resource to landfill)? Is this product local, if not can I get it or something similar locally?
Refuse any and all items and their packaging that will end up in the landfill after a single use, or without the ability to be composted, upcycled, reused or recycled or in any form toxic in their production or use or disposal. Fair-trade, farming practices and sweatshop free are also important considerations. Ask yourself, Do I cause harm by buying this?
Reuse any and all items you bring into your day. If you can't reuse it there are many people that will find value in your discards. Consider Craigs List, EBay, student newsletters, free swap, barter, donate to local charities or groups locally, leave for "Free" out on your roadside but bring in if not removed.
Compost all compostable goods, food, newspapers, dryer lint, floor sweepings... among a few items, deposited in outdoor composting bins, or red worms bins (vermiculture), and compact electric apartment composters are a few of the simple easy ways to compost at home. Put this compost on your houseplants, in your garden or rake into your lawn.
Recycle when all other options are exhausted with a responsible recycler who is not shipping your trash overseas. Find out where it is going and for what. Upcycling is repurposing materials without changing the material into something different. For example: Boat canvas sails are resewn into bike carrier and computer bags instead of being sent to the landfill.
All households can immediately reduce their trash percentages by 75-80% if they started to look at what they are throwing it out and asking if there is a better way.
Sounds like a lot for someone new to Zero Waste but it gets easier with practice, and you are not alone.