When you’ve tried the preceding steps, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse then it’s time for Recycling!
It’s an option for reducing our global waste, but far from perfect. In 2018, China stopped accepting our recycled waste, causing the U.S. to scramble for an alternative.
We shouldn’t stop recycling, but utilizing the steps preceding—saying “no” to what we don’t need, reducing what we actually need, and thinking about ways to repair and repurpose what we have—ultimately reduces what needs to be recycled.
We can commit to recycling by cleaning and sorting according to your local landfill regulations. The EPA has an FAQ section with more information.
Rot or composting is the ultimate step to reducing waste. Food waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas; therefore, composting our food waste significantly reduces methane gas produced in landfills.
I can hear you say, “OH NO! I can’t compost.” But there are options for how we do this. If you are space-constrained, consider Vermicomposting. This is a fun way to bring science indoors and compost your food scraps. Composting pick up is also available and outdoor compost bins come in a variety of options and designs.
These five Rs aren’t the complete answer to our waste problem, but they provide us with ideas on actions we can take to have a positive impact on the environment. By practicing the first three Rs you’ll automatically have less stuff to recycle and rot.