Refuse!  Reuse!  Reduce!  Recycle!

We need YOU to set an example for your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. We need YOU to become more environmentally friendly. Preserve the planet for our children and future generations. We need YOU to take proactive steps toward cleaner living habits to protect the environment. Remember the 4 Rs:  Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle. Let’s break them down.

REFUSE: Say ‘NO’ to single-use plastic. Refusing will help you eliminate a lot of waste right from the start. It’s simply about saying ‘NO’ and looking into reusable alternatives. Refuse single-use items, like plastic grocery bags, disposable coffee cups, plastic utensils, and straws. We are all conditioned to say ‘yes’ when something is free. Learn to refuse! Accept the things you really need and refuse the rest.

REUSE: Take your own reusable grocery bags to the supermarket. Take your own mug or insulated stainless steel bottle to the coffee shop. Buy reusable metal, bamboo, or paper straws. Skip bottled water – carry a refillable container. Rethink food storage – place in reusable containers. Instead of throwing away Ziploc bags, rinse, air-dry and reuse.

Reuse and repair go hand in hand. When you’re deciding whether to toss something and buy new, ask yourself if you can find a way to reuse or repair. This applies to clothing, furniture, and technology. If your phone or laptop is broken, instead of purchasing a new one, seek repair options first, like online repair resources. Reusing also means selling or donating used items so they go to another home instead of the landfill. Buy second hand – shop at thrift and antique stores or yard sales. Use your library card to reuse books, music, and movies. You’ll save a lot of money and reuse something someone else didn’t want.

 REDUCE:  Reducing the amount of items we own and the amount of waste we create means less stuff will end up in the garbage. Simply reduce your purchasing by being mindful of consumption habits and how each purchase affects the ecosystem. Be realistic about what you actually need. When you purchase, select quality items. Well-made products last longer, reducing the times you’ll need to repurchase. Take good care of your possessions so they last a long time. Be mindful of goods that contain excessive plastic packaging and parts, since they will end up in the landfill with a 100+ year decomposition life cycle.

RECYCLE:  One of the easiest ways to reduce your waste is to recycle. Recycle what you can’t refuse, reduce or reuse. Ensure that you’re sorting properly and cleaning packaging before recycling. Items cannot be properly recycled if they are not cleaned of food and residue. Pay attention to the entire life cycle of items you bring into your life, from source to manufacturing to distribution to disposal.

As members of the League of Women Voters, we all should set an example for the people we love and the land we love. Small changes at the individual level may seem trivial, but just think how much cleaner the planet would be if everyone adopted the 4 Rs.


Kathy Panko, Environmental Issues Group

June 15, 2019


Sources:   Plasticpollutioncoalition.org

Rethink Recycling, 9/2017

Outdoor Cat, 2019