Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Produce less waste by practicing the three Rs.
- Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash you discard.
- Reuse containers and products; repair what is broken or give it to someone who can repair it.
- Recycle as much as possible, which includes buying products with recycled content.
Waste prevention, or "source reduction," means consuming and throwing away less. It includes:
- purchasing durable, long-lasting goods
- seeking products and packaging that are as free of toxics as possible
- redesigning products to use less raw material in production, have a longer life, or be used again after its original use
Source reduction actually prevents the generation of waste in the first place, so it is the most preferred method of waste management and goes a long way toward protecting the environment.
Reusing items— by repairing them, donating them to charity (like all those CD's you've already put on your mp3 player) and community groups, or selling them— also reduces waste. Reusing products, when possible, is even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.
Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. In addition, it generates a host of environmental, financial, and social benefits. Materials like glass, metal, plastics, and paper are collected, separated and sent to facilities that can process them into new materials or products.
Recycling is one of the best environmental success stories of the late 20th century. Recycling, including composting, diverted 79 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2005, up from 34 million tons in 1990. By 2002, almost 9,000 curbside collection programs served roughly half of the American population. Curbside programs, along with drop-off and buy-back centers, resulted in a diversion of about 32 percent of the nation's solid waste in 2005.