The 5 R’s – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle

By: Charaee Tropp

 

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle – Five actions that can make your organization and you a better steward.

 

Refuse

Refuse to buy or accept products that can harm you, your company and the environment. Use the power of your dollar to tell companies what you want and do not want.

  • Think about freebies that companies give away. Now if you are going to use that pen or reusable grocery bag, by all means take it, but if it will eventually end up in the trash, then just say, “No.” Refuse to buy harmful products, like cleaners.
  • Refuse chemical solvents and use alternatives that are water based.
  • Refuse to receive materials from your supplies with unnecessary packaging that you will later have to pay for to dispose.
  • Ask the question, “Why are we purchasing this item?” or, “Why do we need this?”

 

Reduce
  • Reduce, to use less. Think about what you use and buy. Could you use less? Reduce the amount of energy you use to heat your facility by getting an energy audit (a lot times for free) and save MONEY in the process.
  • Keep asking the question, “What is the minimum amount necessary?”  Why would you wrap a pallet with 100 feet of stretch wrap if 80 feet will do the job?

 

Reuse

Reuse something you already have instead of buying something. Replace needing a single use item, with something you can use over and over again. Both of these options will save you money as well.

  • Slowly replace any single use items with reusable ones – like reusable water bottles and breakroom mugs.
  • Reuse packaging material (pallets, drums, bubble wrap or packaging peanuts).
  • Reuse shipping containers (boxes, inserts, cartons).
  • Reuse printer cartridges and have them refilled.
Repurpose

Repurpose – to take something and use it for something else. This requires a bit of thinking and craftiness, but doesn’t have to be beautiful.

  • Repurpose scrap paper for taking notes.
  • Repurpose metal cans, buckets for creative plant containers.
  • Repurpose wood crates into benches or shelves.
  • Repurpose material shavings to help clean up spills.
  • Repurpose HVAC condensate as a source for distilled water.

 

Recycle

And last but not least, if the above four options won’t work, recycle. Maybe you missed the opportunity to refuse or reduce because you just weren’t there in your green journey when these purchases were made. Maybe there is no alternative. Recycling is a great way to open your eyes to all that you toss and a chance to rethink your future purchases.

  • Recycle all the basics you can – paper, plastic, metal and glass.
  • Recycle food wastes into composted soil or as a food for a local farm.
  • Recycle ALL fabric – even stained or ripped clothing.
  • Recycle all electronics.

 



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