Each piece of garbage was once a resource, a tree that was turned into a piece of junk-mail, a barrel of oil turned into plastic packaging, ore turned to an aluminum can, all of these things came from Earth, the plant we call home. Garbage is a sad waste of resources so we need to ensure we create as little as possible. When you decrease your waste, you are helping to preserve the energy and resources that would have been used to create items that often end up in the garbage. This reduction also cuts the methane emitted by waste which accounts for 20% of national methane emissions according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

So how can we adopt the 3 R’s; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?

Reduce – Don’t buy more than you need when it comes to perishable food items. Many people buy in bulk because they think they are saving, buy one get one half price for example, however this is truly false economy if you cannot use the produce before it spoils.

Freeze items whenever possible if you know you cannot use it up. Check on the best before dates to ensure you get the longest shelf life possible. You can also reduce general household items, for example buy bars of soap for hand washing instead of pump dispensers. Not only does it last longer there is also no packaging. Only replace items when really necessary. In general think twice before buying anything and if you do buy make sure you get the best use possible out of it before you throw it out.

Reuse – There are many thrift stores across the country that you can donate unwanted items to. Many charities also take an array of items that are still in good condition, which is a good way to make sure your cast offs get a second life. Thrift stores also need people to come and buy the goods so they can raise money for the charities they are supporting. If you have not visited a second hand store you will be surprised how many things you can purchase, from clothes to pots and pans, it is like being in Aladdin’s cave. So if you don’t have a friend or relative you can pass unwanted items that are in good condition on to, be sure to donate to a good cause instead of just tossing it in the garbage.

Recycle – Ensure you are familiar with the items that can be recycled in your area, and only put the items that can be recycled in your blue bin. Consider the packaging on items you are buying and whether it is recyclable; packaging makes up a huge amount of waste that ends up in landfill. If your curbside program does not accept electronics or batteries, ensure you take them to a drop off store or depot, do not put them in the trash as the toxic chemicals can leak out of them in the landfill. If you live in a multi-family building that does not have recycling, save up your recyclables in large clear plastic bags and take them to a depot or drop off site. Or even get together with other tenants and put pressure on the building to start up a recycling program.

Wherever you live, stand up and do your part and live by the 3 R’s!