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The 5 Rs

Reduce, reuse, recycle. We've all been told over and over, but I'm here to tell you that there's more to it.

Refuse: This should always be your first step. In a society filled with consumer culture, sometimes it's hard to determine what we actually need compared to what our society tells us what we need. A good place to start is questioning if you will use what you get/buy consistently. One of the most popular places that you will collect stuff that adds no value to your life is recruitment booths. Pens, water bottles, stickers galore! It can be tempting to take the FREE things that they offer, but do you really need another cheap plastic water bottle? How many pens do you already have scattered around your house? Start by saying no.

Reduce: There are things we do need, or really want, that we can't avoid buying or consuming. When it comes to these items, try to reduce the quantity that you need or the frequency in which you go through things. You need food, but try planning out your shopping trip before you go next time to avoid food waste. Same goes for clothes, toys, and most anything in your household.

Reuse and Repair: These two go hand and hand. Make the things that you DO have last longer! Don't just throw away a sweater with a hole in it, see if you can sew it back together. Get handy while helping the Earth! Additionally, don't throw away anything until you've thought it through: can you reuse that yogurt jar?

Rot: Food waste is HUGE in America. While you should do your best to avoid it in the reduce or refuse stages, it's hard to avoid having to throw away an apple core. Don't just chuck it! The more sustainable solution is to compost your food waste. In some areas, green waste bins allow you to turn your old food into nutrient rich soil-- check your local trash carrier to double-check.

Recycle: Last but not least, recycle. This should be your LAST step! Recycling is helpful, but it is not the end all be all of environmental change. Make sure you sort and clean your recyclables properly, and don't forget about special recycling bins at stores for things like batteries, plastic bags, or even ink cartridges!


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