Reduce, reuse, recycle. The rule of the three Rs (3R) of ecology with which we can collaborate to develop responsible consumption habits. Its promoter was the non-governmental organization Greenpeace as a way of fighting against the growing increase in garbage on the planet. They are strategies for the management of waste more sustainable with the environment.
In its conception, the standard proposes, as most favorable option, that the use of non-essential products should be reduced. What second optionIn case of not being able to reduce the use, find ways to reuse and give a second life to some waste. And finally how last option, but not disposable at all, recycle, in order to recover all the elements that still have a useful life.
What is each of the R’s about?
Actually, is the most favorable step when promoting responsible consumption. It proposes the reduction of energy consumption and material goods as the main way of contributing to the environment. How to do it? Through the reduction of the use of raw materials and natural resources. Also through the reduction of the consequences of use, such as the emission of CO2 and other pollutants to the environment. In the end, it is a matter of developing good habits.
And what actions can we carry out? Many can be carried out on a daily basis to reduce the use of non-essential products:
- To buy Only necessary, investing time to define the actual use needs.
- Prefer products of local origin.
- Choose unpackaged products and reject single-use packaging.
- Discard if possible or minimize the use of plastic; prefer recyclable or multi-use materials to transport products.
Give a product a second life; that’s reuse. See the possibility of repairing the damaged item before throwing it away. If it cannot be repaired, see if there is an option for some other use.
Again, developing a habit that, although it can generate investment of time, in the end results in less waste production. Maybe even some savings. Also, it is not just a change of mind about the use of manufactured products.
It is also that you can – and should! – reuse natural resources such as water. At home, taking advantage of the water with which you clean the vegetables and fruits to water the plants. At the community level, collecting and treating wastewater for irrigation of green areas or cleaning of public spaces.
Finally, they always exist products Y materials what, of unfailing way, must use and dispose. However, we can still obtain some parts or materials from them that, potentially, are treated and reused in new products.
While recycling can be seen as the last option, there are international regulations that define it. These include actions that we can carry out at home, such as separating the waste and disposing it separately in the appropriate containers. Or take damaged appliances and other items to clean points for collection and use.
Currently, recycling in urban and rural areas has been facilitated so that we also participate in the preservation of the environment.
Better to reuse than recycle, why?
The cost of recycling
Of the strategies promoted by the 3R rule, recycling is the one that involves costs and energy consumption. Although its benefits are undeniable, it is not an easy task because, after collecting the waste and if it has been properly separated, it is still necessary to process it. As examples, let’s see the processes that must be followed for recycling some common elements:
- Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET, used for liquid packaging is 100% recyclable. However, it requires three processes after collection. The first, decontamination, grinding and storage to produce the “dirty” raw material again. During the second process, the raw material is washed and transformed into pellets. Finally, the new products are made. Being a relatively simple procedure, it requires large spaces to perform it and its adequate separation from the garbage. Its recycling involves costs.
- Aluminum recycling, the third most used metal in the world, can save up to 94% of its extraction. Its recycling is one of the most profitable, although it also involves collection, separation, cleaning and block formation costs for casting. During the process, the metal does not lose properties, but its recycling involves costs.
- Packaging tetra pak they are recyclable. Through a process that uses water, the layers of cellulose, aluminum and polyethylene are separated. Cellulose is recovered from the water and can be reused in new packaging. Aluminum and polyethylene are used for other uses. Although the recycling process reduces the use of new raw material in a large proportion, it involves costs. In all of them there is also a high cost associated with the use of large amounts of water.
The advantages of reusing
Besides all the ways we have in home for to reuse things more «old women»And, apparently, useless, it can also be reused in other ways.
Large appliances, which have become obsolete and we want to update, we can donate or sell them at a lower cost. Yard sales have always been a great way to make items we have stopped using for others. Recycling is still a form of “controlled disposal”, but it continues to generate costs and waste. For its part, reuse is a form of “circular economy” in which the production of waste is reduced.
In any case, all the actions that you carry out in favor of the environment will redound to your well-being and that of the community. Although the ideal is that you reduce consumption, reuse whenever you can and recycle when you have no choice, any of the actions you take will be in favor of a better future for everyone.