Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, Recycle, and Rethink
In Alaska, we face a challenge with recycling. Recycling is expensive, resource intensive, and limited. As Alaskans, we need to exhaust all our options prior to recycling and disposal. To archive such goals we must focus our energy on reducing, reusing and composting (Rot). As an alternative to all the above, we always have the option of refusing goods. Refusal will allow us to cut our waste production from the top. Although, it is also very important to Re-Think our actions that led us to recycle and disposal. By re-thinking, we are able to start over and change our actions to create less waste.
Refuse, simply means say NO. Refusing materials is the primary way to lower our impact on the landfill. Here are some examples of refusing materials:
- Refuse what you do not need
- Bring your own Tupperware to restaurants
- Carry a reusable bag in your car or purse
- Carry a water bottle and hot drink cup
- Remove your self from junk mail and not desired magazines
- Request no plastic ware in take-out, if eating at home
Find more ideas and resources HERE.
- Buy a larger container instead of two smaller ones.
- Buy products that do more than one thing—for example, shampoos that include conditioners.
- Buy concentrated products or compact packages, such as frozen juices, fabric softeners, and cleaners you mix with water at home.
- Look for products with minimal packaging. You will be using fewer natural resources, and you’ll have less to throw away.
- Leave grass clippings on the ground instead of bagging them when you mow your lawn. Grass clippings decompose quickly, adding nutrients to the soil.
Find more Reducing ideas Here
- Buy reusable products such as rechargeable batteries.
- Pass on magazines, catalogs, and books to neighbors, hospitals, libraries, schools, and nursing homes.
- Reuse plastic or glass containers for storage of food or other household items.
- Reuse shopping bags, boxes, and lumber.
- Reuse wrapping paper, gift bags, and bows. Use the Sunday comics for wrapping birthday presents.
Find more information on Reusing Here
Recycling the leftovers of living things like grass, leaves, and food is called composting. Composting turns these wastes into humus (hyoo’ mas). Humus can be used to mulch around plants or be mixed into the soil to add nutrients, help it hold water, and keep it loose and crumbly.
Find great composting resources, ideas and tips Here
Recycling means to use something again. Newspapers are used to make new newspapers. Aluminum cans are used to make new aluminum cans. Glass jars are used to make new glass jars or road aggregate. There are many reasons why recycling makes sense.
- Recycling saves landfill space. Americans make more trash each year. Most of the trash is buried in landfills. Recycling is one way to reduce the amount of trash that is buried.
- Recycling saves money. Getting rid of trash isn’t free. Garbage trucks must pay to dump their loads at landfills. Recycling reduces landfill costs because less waste is buried.
- Recycling saves energy. It almost always takes less energy to make a product from recycled materials than it does to make it from new materials. Recycling aluminum cans, for example, uses 95 percent less energy than making aluminum cans from new materials. One exception to the rule is plastics. Sometimes it takes more energy to recycle plastics than it does to use new materials.
- Recycling saves natural resources. Natural resources are valuable. Natural resources include land, plants, minerals, and water. By using materials more than once, we conserve natural resources. In the case of paper, recycling saves trees, water, and energy. Preventing one ton of paper waste can save 15-17 mature trees. Recycling a ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water.
- Recycling reduces air and water pollution. Using old cans instead of raw materials to make new aluminum cans reduces air and water pollution by 95 percent.
Find recycling basics Here
There are a million ways to rethink your daily practices. By simply reexamining the choices you make day-to-day, you have the power to affect change and work toward a sustainable future: from shopping (“Could I borrow this from someone instead? Can I reuse something I already have in my home?”) to your daily routine to how you dispose of products and materials that you just can’t use any more (think: recycling and composting!)
Special thanks to the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) and U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Content.