Waste Reduction Week

Waste Reduction Week

Waste Reduction Week is a great time to go back to the basics and focus on the R's:  Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and finally Recycle.  When you focus on the small things and build on that, you can really make a difference.

We all talk about recycling, but there is a reason it is last in the list.  It is the last resort.  Once you have tackled the first 4 R's, there should not be much left to recycle.  Let's re-think about this.

Rethink - . How do we end up with the waste we find ourselves getting rid of?  Can we change our purchasing habits so that we don't end up with these items?   Example:  Instead of buying individually wrapped snack packs, purchase the snack in bulk and pack them in reusable cups for lunches.

Refuse - No one says that you have to take it.  Are you picking up take-out and going straight home to eat it?  If so, refuse the plastic utensils and paper napkins that they add to your bag.  You can use your utensils at home and even use cloth napkins.  If you are really committed, you can take your own reusable container for them to put your food in, instead of a plastic or polystyrene clam shells. Reduce - Reduce the amount you use.  How many times a week do you get coffee in a paper cup?  By using a travel mug, you  reduce the number of cups and your coffee stays hot longer (if you are like me, you spill less)   Another idea is to pack litterless lunches.  This saves you money, and if you have kids, it saves money for the school district.  There are also ways to reduce at work.  Save paper by narrowing your margins and printing on both sides of the paper.  Little things can go a long way.

Reuse -  I have already mentioned travel mugs for coffee.  Another item that you can reuse every day is a water bottle.  This will reduce  waste and it will save you more money.  If you are buying water bottles, you are paying 3 times more than gasoline for your vehicle. http://money.howstuffworks.com/bling-water1.htm  We complain about how much we pay at the pump.  Why are we willing to pay even more for something we can easily get out of the tap in our kitchens?

When you are cleaning out your closets or cupboards, donate usable items to thrift stores.  If you need something, thrift stores are a great place to shop too. 

Recycle - and now we arrive at the end of the R's.  Now that you are down to the unavoidable bottom of the options, some things reach the end of their life.  That does not mean that they are now garbage.  That just means that they need to be broken down so that they can become something new.  There are many programs to help with this.  BC has programs for oil, antifreeze, tires, electronics, small appliances, paint, batteries, outdoor power equipment, lighting, medication, thermostats, cell phones, smoke detectors, power tools, crafting equipment,and beverage containers.  Try reading that list out loud without taking a breath.  It is an extensive list.  Some items that are not on the list can be handled in creative ways by upcycling them into something else.  Larger items may be candidates for scrap metal yards.

I could go on forever on this, but I will spare you.  I am sure you can come up with options and ideas that I haven't mentioned and I hope you do.  You are also welcome to call the NEAT office at 888-689-6328 if you need help with something, or drop us a line at info@neat.ca.  We love a challenge.