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The R Words – Part 1: Reduce

Reduce_Reuse_RecycleThis is the first in a series of blog posts looking at the hallowed three Rs of waste reduction – reduce, reuse and recycle. We’ll look primarily at how people can incorporate the principles into their own lives at home, as well as how the professionals manage it.

The first of the Rs is often the most neglected. Reduce, as a principle, urges us to consume less in the first place, rather than trying to figure out what to do with our stuff after it’s outlived its usefulness. This goes against the grain of our consumer culture, where planned obsolescence and marketing saturation urge us to buy newer, buy better and just simply buy more.

How to Do It:

Start Small! Trying to reduce your consumption can be as simple as using a reusable water bottle instead of buying disposable, or bringing cloth shopping bags instead of using plastic ones from the store.

Reducing can also refer to a reduction in the consumption of less tangible things, like electricity. Installing compact fluorescent light bulbs and energy efficient appliances are popular, passive options, but you can go just a tiny step farther, remembering to turn off lights, unplug electronics when they’re not in use and even use specialized detergents and wash your clothes in cold water.

On a larger scale, consumers can put pressure on manufacturers to focus on source reductions – minimizing the amount of packaging they use, and choosing eco-friendly or biodegradable materials. Far from being a concession, after the initial implementation costs, these types of reductions can often save companies money on raw materials, padding two of three components of a triple bottom line.

Lastly, of course, the hardest part of the reduce principle: simply buying less. Less brand new clothing, fewer consumer electronics, even less red meat. Reduced consumption, of any sort, is the most effective and eco-friendly option of any in the waste avoidance cycle, and it also involves the hardest decisions – saying no to a pair of jeans on crazy sale (when you’ve already got three perfectly good pairs at home) is a lot harder than tossing a can in the recycling bin. It’s certainly a mind-shift, but if making a decision to live as eco-consciously as possible, it’s a valuable one.

How We Do It:

Unfortunately, reducing is one part of the cycle we can’t really touch as a junk removal company – we come into the picture after the fact. We do make an effort in our offices to be paperless wherever possible and to use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, but otherwise, this one’s all on you!