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The three R’s: Reduce, reuse and recycle

Isabella Santoro

Photography Editor

Image via Vlada Karpovich/Pexels

Reduce, reuse and recycle. The three R’s are taught to us as young kids and passed off as something that is optional, but with the rapid rate at which the Earth is warming, this should be a necessary step for people. The amount of trash that we throw out on a daily basis is astounding, and we’re recycling less and less. This goes along with reducing and reusing, the less known R’s.

Trees are very important to our environment and the wellbeing of our planet. Trees hold carbon dioxide, which is an essential greenhouse gas we need in order to have breathable oxygen. As we know, paper is made from trees and is something that we usually encounter on a daily basis, whether it is to write something down or a book we're reading for class.

In 2021 alone, the United States cut down 30 million trees to produce 2 billion books, textbooks included. This astronomical number of trees being cut down is not only harmful to our environment, but contributes to why we are experiencing much higher temperatures in winter and fall months as of late. This is one of many reasons why using recycled products is essential to reducing this alarming trend.

The amount of energy used by companies would decrease by 30% if companies reused and recycled materials. Case and point, all of the energy that it takes to make one metal can could be used to make 20 recycled cans, conserving energy needed to help save our planet. Recycling everyday products such as cans, water bottles, paper and hard plastics will greatly benefit not only you but wildlife as well. Instead of throwing these items into the regular trash can, put them in your recycling bin or purchase one if your town or city does not recycle. It can be very easy to forget to recycle every day. It’s easy to throw away things when they no longer serve us, but this can greatly harm our environment as they’ll end up in landfills.

Landfills are somewhat responsible for global warming as they release biogas, which is methane gas, CH₄, and carbon dioxide, CO₂, two gasses that contribute to climate change and global warming. According to the International Solid Waste Association, if we do not take action, landfills will account for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, only two years from now. These products don’t have to be put into landfills, but can instead be reused for other products.

Reusing is something that can be very simply done. Once you are done with a can of soup or vegetables, don’t throw it out into the trash but clean and use it for holding items such as your pencils, pens or keys. This helps you from both purchasing another and throwing out an item that could eventually end up in a landfill. Reuse plastic bottles for these types of things as well, or reduce the amount of them that you buy. This will help to reduce the rate at which this Earth is warming up.

Just last year, I spray painted and used old milk crates as bookshelves instead of throwing them away. This was cost effective and prevented me from buying a bookshelf made from, again, trees. Instead of throwing out clothing when I have outgrown it or it doesn’t fit anymore, I either donate the clothes or give them to a friend. This, again, helps it from ending up in a landfill, where it will take many years to decompose. Clothing is something that we should be aware of having too much of as well. If you know you no longer need a piece of clothing, donate it.

Reducing is extremely important as well. To put simply, reducing unnecessary waste created by owning excess amounts of things helps reduce waste in landfills.

For example, if you know that you don’t need something, avoid buying it only for that item to end up in the trash a year later. Buying from stores such as Savers is a great way to buy products that have not been recently manufactured. Options such as Salvation Army are also available, which prevents the need to buy a new piece of clothing from Target or a department store. An added bonus is that their prices are much cheaper. It doesn’t hurt to buy something second hand, especially since you’re helping heal the environment.

These are steps in the right direction, but it could take many years to reduce the effects of climate change and global warming. Hundreds of years have built up to the high rate of both issues that we are seeing in 2023. Even doing a little bit of reducing, reusing and recycling every day can help, though. It isn’t too late to save our environment.


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