The best way to keep things out of the landfill is to reduce, reuse, recycle, so let’s look at what these three R’s mean individually to determine a viable approach. You can mix and match these options, or maybe you have an option I’m not aware of, it doesn’t have to start with an R. Using all three R’s provides a variety of actions that will lead to the ultimate goal.
One way to reduce means to get away from buying products with packaging that isn’t environmentally friendly such as plastics. Yes, I know you CAN recycle many plastics, but the idea is not to have to do that to begin with. A good example is our love of bottled water that goes with us in our daily activities. Instead of buying that package of filled plastic water bottles, you could invest in a travel mug/bottle and use filtered water from your home fridge to keep plastic bottles out of the landfill.
Another way to reduce is by adopting a minimalist mindset. Contrary to some people’s way of thinking, this doesn’t mean to get rid of everything you own. The idea is to eliminate excess. This mindset has younger generations understanding that happiness is not tied to things, so they don’t keep buying things, especially to collect. Having fewer things has so many benefits such as, easier to clean your house, saving money by buying less, freeing up space so it’s easier to move about, more funds to invest in experiences to make memories, etc.
This is one of my favorite strategies to keep things out of the landfill, and there are different options to this approach. The first option which may be the best one is donation. This could also fall into the category of recycling. When you donate an item you no longer want to a favorite charity, they in turn will sell it or give it to someone in need. This item gets reused by someone that really needs it.
There is another way to reuse an item you no longer want, and that is to repurpose it. One example is if you have too many coffee mugs and need to get rid of the excess, but you also need a way to contain pens, scissors, or other desktop tools or tools for crafting. Instead of buying a specific organizer, get creative to see what you have to get rid of that you can reuse or repurpose. Another example is small boxes such as for checks or jewelry. They can be repurposed as drawer dividers to keep them out of the landfill.
If the options of reducing or reusing an item you no longer want won’t work, then recycling may be the best approach. Probably the easiest way to recycle is to use your curbside recycling bin. Understanding what can go into these bins may not always be easy.
Yes, the service provider usually provides a list of acceptable items based on the number in the recycle triangle on the item. But what if it doesn’t have a recycle triangle with a number? I’m told that if it doesn’t have the recycle icon, it can’t be recycled, at least not in your curbside bin.
There are other items without the recycle icon that can be recycled through other providers, but how do you know what and where to take them? A quick internet search in your area will provide companies that will take specific items. Just a little research can provide the means to recycle a plethora of items that your curbside pickup won’t, to keep them out of the landfill.