In our daily lives reuse is often more practical and more beneficial than tossing items in the recycling bin. The following article from NorthJersey.com explains the benefits of reuse and provides easy ways to practice it.
After decades of emphasizing recycling, environmental advocates and climate-change experts are now shifting their focus a bit: Instead of tossing used receptacles into a recycling bin — where it takes energy to haul them away and even more to process them into new products — they’re stressing it’s better to use them again and again.
The concept is not new. Environmental advocates’ mantra has always been “reduce, reuse, recycle” — but now there is a growing emphasis on reducing by reusing items more than once.
That not only means bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but also using cloth napkins instead of paper, turning old clothes into cleaning rags, and instead of buying prepackaged deli snacks for lunch, sending children to school with a sandwich in a container that can be used over and over.
“You use 90 percent less energy to take an aluminum can and make it into a new can through recycling than if you had to mine bauxite to make aluminum and make a new can, so recycling is still important,” said Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club. “But reuse has become much more the environmental trend for a lot of people because you don’t need to use the energy for recycling.”
“One by one, what we buy, or how we buy things, will make a difference,” Tittel said. “So by reusing canvas bags, it means you are not using oil and other things to make plastic bags that are not going to spend an eternity in a landfill.
By reusing containers it saves on energy, it saves on our carbon footprint and it saves in landfills, which also cause a lot of pollution. So it’s a good, simple way to lower your carbon footprint and help the environment.”
Other solutions are just as simple.
Stop serving bottled water at catered events and public meetings, suggests Randall Solomon, executive director of the Sustainable State Institute at Rutgers University. Instead, put out pitchers of water to serve in glasses.
“You don’t have to be super radical to make a huge difference,” Solomon said.
One of the recommendations in a greenhouse-gas report released last week by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection also emphasizes the need to reduce and reuse — not only recycle.
“The more scientific information that we get, we are realizing the importance of reduce and reuse along with recycling,” said DEP spokeswoman Elaine Makatura.
So before you recycle, consider if the item you’re getting rid of could possibly be reused.
Do you have other suggestions for ways in which we can better practice reuse? If so, please mention them in the comments.