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  • Writer's pictureGloria Otero

Learn about Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

Recycling: The term "recycle" refers to the process in which an item or its components are used to create something new. Plastic bottles are recycled and made into carpet, pathways and benches. Glass and aluminum are other commonly recycled materials. Recycling is technically a form of reusing, but it refers more specifically to items that are discarded and broken down into their raw materials. Recycling companies convert the original item and then sell the now-usable material. Some companies purchase secondhand material and use it to manufacture a new product, which is another form of recycling.

Reduce: Keeping purchases to a minimum is an important way of reducing the toll on the Earth's resources. Lowering consumption is the key to the concept of reducing, which can apply to physical objects as well as natural resources, such as gas, electricity and water. Not to be confused with reusing or recycling, reducing means lowering or eradicating use from the start. Cutting back on unnecessary purchases lowers the rate at which materials are used, but also effectively lowers the energy, gas and transportation costs that are accrued when an item is made and sold. The term "reduce" clearly applies to lifestyle. Reducing driving would mean combining trips, carpooling, and walking, biking, and taking public transportation when possible. Taking shorter showers, landscaping appropriately to the local climate and replacing older, less efficient appliances with Energy Star appliances all fit under the reducing concept.

Reuse: is a broad term that combines reusing materials and using items that have reusable qualities. Paper plates are an example of a non-reusable product. Cutlery that can be reused prevents waste at the landfill, but it also lowers the amount of energy needed to manufacture new products. Less pollution results, and more natural resources are left intact. Consider the possibilities of an item before discarding it, as it might be reused toward a different purpose than originally intended. An old shirt may become a car rag. Though reuse is different from reducing use, when an item is reused, consumption is reduced as a by-product.

Combined, reduce, reuse and recycle form a complete circle that can preserve natural resources; reduce waste, energy consumption and pollutants; and protect the planet. Composting offers an example of all three resource conservation elements. With composting, natural materials are recycled into a form in which gardeners and landowners reuse them. When using homegrown compost, the need for artificial fertilizers is reduced; also reduced is space taken up needlessly in landfills for material that can instead go back to the earth

Note: pizza boxes are recyclable. However, the grease and cheese from pizza that soil the cardboard make the boxes contaminated. So, pizza boxes that are tarnished with food, or any paper that is stained with grease or food, are not recyclable ‐ unless the tainted portions are removed

Paper: Each American uses around 680 pounds of paper each year, and most people just throw it away instead of recycling it for further use. Most people use at least seven trees each year, through wood, paper and other types of products that use trees. That is over 2 trillion trees throughout the course of the year when you think about it

2000 pounds of recycled paper can actually help to save 17 trees, over 350 gallons of oil, and a lot of landfill space. That also means less air pollution!

Aluminium cans: can actually be recycled and put back onto the shelf at your local grocery store in just about 2 months. If you throw away your aluminium cans, they can stay in that can form for up to 500 years or more- so recycling is the way to go.

You can recycle aluminium over and over again, and there is really no limit to it.

Plastic Bottles: People will use over 2 and a half million plastic bottles every thirty minutes, and most of them are simply thrown away rather than recycled.

Plastic bags: that are thrown into the ocean kill over a million sea creatures a year.

Glass jars: can be recycled or reuse, but there are many that are just thrown away. A glass bottle could take over 4000 years to actually decompose, and if it is in the landfill then it will probably take even longer than that. Glass is 100% recyclable and can be used again and again. Glass recycling is separated into colors because glass retains its color even after recycling


Composting is nature's process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. Anything that was once living will decompose. Basically, backyard composting is an acceleration of the same process nature uses. By composting your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Composting Benefits

Soil conditioner: With compost, you are creating rich humus for lawn and garden. This adds nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.

Recycles kitchen and yard waste: Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can

Introduces beneficial organisms to the soil: Microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material for plant use and ward off plant disease. Good for the environment: Composting offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers. Reduces landfill waste: Most landfills in North America are quickly filling up; many have already closed down. One-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials.

For more information about how and what to compost visit

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