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The Green Three R's: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

UPDATED December 27, 2013

By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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A new set of R`s are here: Recycle, Reduce and Reuse.

These three `Rs`, when used every day, can reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, reduce the litter fouling the land and water, conserve energy and save you money.

Here are few of the ways each one helps.

Recycle

Recycling is one of the easiest ways to save energy, money and time while reducing the amount of garbage going into landfills.

Most communities have roadside pick-up service to recycle common household items like glass, steel, aluminum, newspaper and cardboard. By separating out the recyclable items from normal household trash, you can reduce the amount of trash entering a landfill by more than 75 percent.

Recycling one aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours. Even better, local recyclers or scrap-metal dealers may pay money for your metal recyclables.

It is estimated that the 54 billion cans recycled last year in the U.S. saved 15 million barrels of oil. That is equivalent to the U.S. oil consumption for one day. Recycling other household items offers similar savings in money and energy.

Composting food waste will reduce your trash load even more. A basic compost pile built with the help of instructions from numerous resources on the web can be constructed over a weekend, using materials easily obtained from local hardware or home improvement stores. In addition to reducing your waste, this all-natural recycling provides safe, clean and organic fertilizer for your garden, eliminating the need to buy chemical-derived products.

Finally, recycling other household items like computers, televisions and monitors and household chemicals like pesticides and paints will remove dangerous chemicals like mercury and lead from the landfills. Many communities offer these services at little charge with collection days scattered throughout the year.

If your community doesn`t offer recycling programs, contact your local government to get one established.

Reuse:

Reusing is another great way to eliminate waste going into landfills and giving second lives to unwanted items. Electronics, furniture and cars to everyday items like clothes, water bottles, plastic containers and plastic grocery bags are a few of things that everyone can reuse.

The best way to reuse electronics, furniture and cars is to donate or sell them. The popularity of classified and auction websites has made it easier to sell them to others. Charities like the Goodwill and Salvation Army will accept donations that are in good, working condition. These donations are usually tax deductible.

Plastic grocery bags can be reused as your daily lunch sack and make great and inexpensive liners for small bathroom trash cans. A few stores offer recycling programs or discounts for customers reusing these bags. Numerous counties across the U.S. have gone even further, banning plastic bags, requiring all customers to bring their own bags.

Reduce:

The biggest way to eliminate the amount of trash going into a landfill is to minimize the amount of potential trash you produce in the first place.

There are simple ways to reduce the amount of trash and pollution you produce everyday. One of the biggest ways to reduce trash is to use canvas grocery sacks every time you go shopping. These inexpensive reusable bags will cut down on the number of plastic grocery and shopping bags you use, reducing the amount of plastic entering the landfills.

Other ways to reduce waste include using sponges and wash clothes when cleaning up spills. Although some one-use paper towels are made from recycled materials, the manufacturing process is energy-intensive and uses strong chemicals. Wash towels and washcloths only when you have a full load, to reduce water waste and the amount of detergent going into the sewer system.

Eliminating paper waste will significantly reduce the trash you produce. The biggest culprit of excess paper comes in the mail everyday in the form of bills, advertisements and "junk" mail. Many companies including utilities, governments, banks and cable and telephone providers offer paperless billing options by paying bills online or automatically. Unsolicited and unwanted credit card and bank solicitations can be eliminated by registering online with the Direct Marketing Association ($1 processing fee) and the consumer credit bureaus.

Doing your part to eliminate waste is as easy as following the 3 R`s, Recycle, Reduce and Reuse.

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