Remember the three Rs? Last month, we discussed beginning a home recycling program. Now it’s time to become familiar with the other two Rs – reduce and reuse – also known as precycling. By reducing and reusing, we can lessen the waste generated. Trash headed for those shrinking landfills can be reduced by up to 15 percent by following the three Rs.

Emerson said: “Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.” Be creative in reusing items, and learn to look for reduced packaging.

Here are a few hints: Turn them into habits, and you’re on your way to becoming a pre-cycler.

• Use a canvas tote bag for quick trips to the store. Refuse a bag if you are buying only one or two items. If you are doing weekly shopping, ask for paper, or make sure you recycle the plastic bags. Plastic bags also can be used to line small trash cans instead of buying plastic liners.
• Purchase products with minimal packaging. Many manufacturers are becoming aware of overpackaging, but many more can improve. Favor those who are making an effort to reduce waste.
• Select recycled paper products. Recycled items available include paper towels, napkins, school and office supplies, gift wrap, and greeting cards.
• Buy in bulk, and choose economy sizes. These items offer less packaging to toss as well as cost savings.
• Buy refillable containers and concentrates.
• Stop buying disposable products such as pens and razors.
• Buy a battery recharger and rechargeable batteries. They are a great investment, both for your home and the environment.
• Reduce junk mail by writing to the Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, 11 West 42nd St., P.O. Box 3861, New York, N.Y. 10163-3861. Ask that your name not be sold to mailing list companies. You also can use return envelopes enclosed in junk mail for grocery lists, and keep your coupons inside.
• Reduce the number of plastic sandwich bags you use. Store leftovers and other food items in plastic or glass containers. Pack lunch sandwiches in Tupperware-type containers, or use wax paper. Try to achieve a “trashless” lunch box.

Try introducing these ideas into your life; the impact made on reducing your recyclables may surprise you. All it takes is a little common sense and remembering the three Rs.

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