The Three Rs of Green Living - Revisited by Gia Machlin, May 07 2012, 2 Comments

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. So cliche. Yet so ignored. Dare I say that it almost goes against what we are taught from day one in our consumer driven society? Poopy diaper? Throw it out! Make a mess? Clean it up with paper towels and wipes. It's your birthday? Let's get you a shiny new plastic toy! It seems that from the moment we are born, we are programmed to Use, Dispose, and Buy new. It doesn't sound as catchy as Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but it's how most of us live our lives. Even well intentioned eco concious families, such as mine, often choose convenience over conservation because, well, we live in the 21st century, and most of us don't plan on living "off-the-grid" any time soon. But just because we can't wipe out our carbon footprint, it doesn't mean we shouldn't all try to minimize it, every day.

I'm guessing the reason that "Reduce" comes first in the saying, is that it is the most important piece of the equation. Reducing consumption alone could solve many of our environmental woes. But reduction is the hardest part to do. Believe me, I try every day. For example, while I no longer buy Ziploc® bags, I haven't found a really suitable replacement for them. Tupperware and deli containers are bulky, and cloth bags just don't hold in the moisture, and it is a pain to wash and dry the bags for reuse.

Which takes us to the "Reuse" part of the saying. While easier than reducing, reusing is still more difficult than number three: "Recycle." So I think we should reword the saying in order of ease: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce. People need to tackle the easiest part before they can move on to those steps that require a little more of a change in lifestyle. And since we are only recycling a fraction of what we could be recycling right now, let's try to do better! Let's challenge ourselves to be more conscious in our recycling habits.

Here is a clip from my appearance on Cafe Mom Studios' Mom Ed: Green Living show in which I talk about recycling. I hope you find it informative.

For more information on what and where to recycle different types of materials in your location, please check out our recycling widget from Also, please see this post about recycling with some great ideas from our readers. Did you learn anything new about recycling today?