Waste management is an issue that the entire world is facing these days. If we talk specifically about the USA, you will be shocked to know that an average American’s disposal of garbage is at around 600 times their weight. Cutting it down to per day basis, then on average, 4 pounds of waste per individual is dumped each day.
This means a lot of garbage, and there is a lot of pressure on landfills. If left untreated, this can produce various problems, some of which include air pollution, land pollution and even water pollution as a lot of garbage eventually reaches water bodies too. Moreover, it can also cause respiratory diseases and pose major health risks to our bodies as contaminants from the garbage get absorbed by the lungs and reach other parts of the body.
If we talk about the environmental impact of untreated waste, garbage produces dangerous gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. These greenhouse gases can have a damaging impact on the environment. These are some of the biggest contributors to climate change and the increase in carbon emissions, which in turn is causing global warming.
Due to such great threats, it is extremely important to try and reduce our wastage and treat it properly. The 3R strategy, short for reduce, reuse and recycle is proven to be one of the best ways through which overflowing garbage could be controlled and properly treated. Here’s a detailed view of what this 3R strategy is, and how you can implement it in your day to day lives.
The 3R Strategy
The 3R’s i.e. reduce, reuse and recycle form an important action plan to promote sustainable living and protect our environment from the pressure of climate change and global warming. This method is one of the most effective in cutting down on the amount of waste that we eventually throw away.
It is a simple technique, you need to adopt some basic etiquette and follow it every day. A little effort from each of us could collectively make a huge impact, and ensure that our landfills do not take huge spaces, and the threats they pose are under control.
Let’s delve into details about these 3 R’s and understand how you can include them in your lives.
It simply means to reduce waste by limiting what you consume. To start this, firstly you will have to limit your purchases. If you do not purchase a lot of things, then you will automatically produce less waste. To limit your purchases, you should first decide if that item is necessary to buy or if you could do without it.
It is very important to avoid impulsive buys. Often, we look at something and instantly decide to buy it, ending up buying non-essential items as well. You can use the three-day rule, which refers to waiting for 3 days before actually making the purchase. If you are still thinking about it three days later or feel the need for it, then go ahead and buy, but if not, then the best decision would be to ignore it.
One more thing you can do to reduce wastage is to buy in bulk if you are sure about the quantity you want. This will require less packaging and reduce packaging waste. Moreover, you can keep restricted budget spends which will force you to buy less.
Recycling is a commonly known practice and one most of us are familiar with. Under this, some specific materials such a paper, cardboard, wood, metal and plastic that is considered to be waste are collected and then processed to be converted into other goods.
It is one the most important of the 3 R’s and has a huge share in limiting the wastage that is produced globally. It increases economic security by tapping domestic sources of materials and diminishing the need for imports, prevents pollution and saves energy too. The goods that are produced after recycling also have great quality and are no different from the original standard product, which makes it that much more comfortable for people to adopt.
The reuse concept refers to using old items that you considered throwing earlier in an efficient way so that you do not have to buy a new product, hence reducing waste. The primary aim is to get the best mileage out of everything you buy. For example, if you buy clothes, then use them as much as you can, and once they are ready to replace, use them as cleaning rags.
Similarly, when you cook food and there is some leftover, then instead of throwing it away, you either take it to work the next day or distribute it to someone in need. Besides food, there are many other household items like old wires, chargers, electronic devices and similar things that might not be of much use to you once they are old, but these can be donated to community centers or other charitable organizations that could make optimum use of it.
5 Ways Through Which You Can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Some common ways that you can follow in your day to day life and contribute to a cleaner and greener environment through reduce, reuse and recycle are:
Limit Your Electricity Use
We all consume a lot of electricity individually every day. By being careful and limiting our usage, we can save a lot of energy. You should always remember to turn off appliances such as TV, fans, air conditioners, lights immediately after their usage is concluded.
Similarly, you should always buy appliances that are energy efficient. Appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, dishwashers, dryers amongst others come with energy ratings. You should always buy the ones with the most stars. Also, you should use LED lights in your home as these last for a long time and do not take much power. Taking these measures not only contributes towards the environment but also to your pocket by reducing your electricity bill.
Reduce your Water Consumption
Everyone needs to understand the issue of water scarcity and contribute as much as we can to save water. Some common steps that can be taken to stop water wastage include lowering your shower time and limiting it to 5 minutes, turning the tap off while brushing, shaving, washing, or even when you go out, check pipes and toilets regularly for any leakages.
You should also use washing machines and dishwashers only when you have a full load. Even while watering your plant, be wise and pour only as much water as required by your plants. If possible, you should also have a community water harvesting system to which can recharge the groundwater level and keep it safe for later use.
Reduce Paper Consumption
Paper waste is one of the biggest reasons for the huge pressure on the dump yards. It accounts for 85 million tonnes of waste globally each year. To efficiently follow the reuse, reduce and recycle model, we should limit our paper use everywhere we can.
Instead of asking for paper bills, we should accept the digital versions through mails or online. An average person receives around 30 pounds of junk mail every year. This can be reduced by getting all the emails online. Besides, the paper that we receive can be used multiple times for packaging, cleaning, and other daily household purposes.
Also, paper is one of the most easily recyclable products. Instead of throwing it away, we can get it recycled, and each tonne of recycled paper will lead towards saving more than 3.3 cubic yards of space at landfills, eventually reducing waste and lowering the threats associated with it.
Although some take it as a matter of pride and never buy any second-hand products, you should understand that your pride should be in making contributions towards the planet, and by buying second hand, you make a very big contribution.
Be it second-hand clothes, appliances, gadgets, or vehicles, whenever you get a good product that will last some more years, then and only then you should decide to purchase it. Not only it saves you some money but also reduces the demand for new products, which eventually helps in lowering carbon emissions and promotes sustainable living. Once the product is no longer in a condition to be used further, you can get it recycled, doing your best towards having a greener planet.
This is one of the easiest yet best ways to use organic waste in making the planet greener and cleaner. The process involved in this is to compose all the organic waste such as vegetable leaves, fruit peels, food-soiled paper, garden trimmings, grass clippings, etc. in a humus-like material known as compost, and then putting it in the soil to serve as a natural fertilizer for plants.
We humans have always taken the things given to us by nature for granted, and the signs of it can be seen in the increased carbon footprint, increase in greenhouse gases, environmental degradation and poor ecological systems. All this, in addition to the already polluted atmosphere climate change and global warming will make the planet a hard place to live in.
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels
It is about time that we all understand the urgency of the threats that are upon us and make an honest effort towards sustainable living. The 3R concept of reduce, reuse and recycle is one of the most convenient ways to proceed towards a greener environment and reduce the looming dangers. Let us all pledge to contribute for our planet by following some of the ideas mentioned above.