The 4 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and then Recycle

Most of us have learned that there are 3 R's in the process of creating and maintaing a comprehensive recycling program. Though this has been a good start for educating and making recycling a more mainstream concept, it is vital to recognize the ultimate goal of this type of program; eliminating waste!

To eliminate waist, we need a clear thought process; steps in deciding if we are contributing to the waist stream or if we are helping to eliminate it.

The 4 R's:

1. Refuse: To refuse waist is often seen as a "radical" choice. As a consumer, the impact of refusing waist is a clear statement to the producer. This choice is a powerful one in that you refuse to take on the responsibility of waste and only wish to receive the wanted or needed product. 

2. ReduceAs you gain a better understanding of what waist is and the impacts it has on our natural, economic and social environments, reducing becomes a choice of consciousness. Reducing waste allows you to participate at any level.

3. Reuse: Using conventional waste to divert it from the waste stream offers a broad spectrum of savings. From plastic containers to shipping containers, the reuse of a product introduces a second life cycle.

4. Recycle: Though recycling is the last "R" in this though process, it has become the most commonly used element. Recycling is absolutely important in eliminating waste and will always be part of the ongoing process. Separating out recyclables from other waste is a responsibility that often lies with the end consumer. The problems that arise with recycling are usually the lack of knowledge and accessibility.

We all need to practice waste management and the 4R's are a process for us to reach the goal of eliminating waste.

I will be addressing each of the four steps in future posts to give you support and ideas in how to accomplish your individual and organizational participation.