3 rsThe 3 R’s are – reuse, reduce and recycle. These are very important R’s to remember at all times. I just read something the other day on the internet somewhere, I can’t remember where, that suggested we add a 4th R – refuse.  The context pertained to refusing to use disposable plastic water bottles. That’s a great idea. I think it could be added to the 3 R’s and considered as you downsize, and not just for disposable plastic water bottles. Refusing to add another unwanted or unneeded thing to our living environment makes sense.

Throughout our lives we downsize our belongings and sometimes our homes for various reasons. The accumulation of things in our homes is fast paced and continuous. In a blink of an eye we end up with so much stuff that we wonder where it all came from.

The concept of the 3 R’s, maybe 4 R ‘s, not only allows us to be good stewards of the earth, but also keeps the amount of our belongings in check. That is if we keep them in mind as we go along life’s path. They are especially important when we realize we have too much stuff and understand the benefits of downsizing.

Whether you are moving to a smaller home, or discover your living spaces are overcrowded, the realization is that you need to get rid of a lot of things.  Things you no longer need or want, the excess. These are the things to consider as you downsize keeping in mind the 3 R’s.

The 3 R’s


We have become a disposable society. There are probably a lot of reasons and I don’t want to get into how it came to be.  The point is that we need to be more thoughtful of the things we throw away. If something can be reused, do it.  Use things until they can’t be used anymore, then look for ways to keep them out of a landfill.  Things that come to mind are – dishes that can be washed instead of using paper plates, travel cups instead of using disposable plastic bottles, sponges, or rags that can be washed instead of using paper towels, etc. I’m sure you can think of more things to reuse.

Buying durable goods that can be repaired is another way to reuse. Unfortunately, products that can be repaired these days are not always easy to find.  The way in which a lot of things are built is such that paying for repair may be more costly than buying a new one, hence the disposable society.


Reduce refers to the amount of waste each one of us produces. As you downsize, this R is key in the way that you let go of the things that no longer serve your needs. Tossing your excess in a landfill is adding to waste and consequently your carbon footprint.


There are so many ways and things we can recycle if we think about it.  Actually, all of the 3 R’s fall under the umbrella of recycling. When you reuse something, or repurpose it, you are recycling. When you reduce the waste you produce, you are keeping things out of a landfill which reduces your carbon footprint. There are recycling facilities of all types – plastic, paper, metal, fabric, etc. These facilities turn these materials into other products.

Donation is a huge way of recycling.  There are so many people that are in need of those things that you no longer need or want.  Many charities collect unwanted goods and either give them to those that need them, or sell them. They use the proceeds for programs to help those in need.

Selling your things is another way of recycling. Having a garage sale or selling items online is a way to remove things from your house, make a few bucks and then someone else will reuse them.

The 4th R – Refuse

As mentioned above, refusing to add another unneeded or unwanted thing to our living environment makes sense.  When a service provider wants to send you paper bills or statements, refuse. Instead ask for paperless billing and statements. Refuse plastic grocery bags and bring reusable fabric bags instead. When a family member or friend asks for gift ideas, refuse tangibles. Instead ask for experiences instead. This concept will make your downsizing project much easier.

How do you use the 3 R’s when you downsize?