The 3 R’s

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Every year, Americans throw away 50 billion food and drink cans, 27 billion glass bottles and jars, and 65 million plastic and metal jar and can covers. More than 30% of our waste is packaging materials and we're quickly running out of space.1 Follow these steps to live a greener life.

1. Reduce
Don't use resources you don't need. Purchase products that require less packaging and limit the waste you are producing.
2. Reuse
Find ways of using items again, this helps reduce the amount of new resources needed to create new products.
3. Recycle
Paper, plastic, glass, electronics, and more can be processed into new products while using fewer natural resources and less energy.

Step 1: Reduce

Reduction is not only good for the environment, but is also good for your budget and can even help save storage space. Ask yourself these three questions:

Do you need the item that you're considering buying? Consider borrowing, renting, or sharing an item that will be used one time.
Is there something else that can be used for this purpose? Multi-purpose items reduce the amount of production.
Will this reduce the other things I need? Purchasing energy efficient appliances will reduce your energy usage.

How might you reduce the following?

Step 2: Reuse

Instead of throwing things away, try to find ways to use them again. If you cannot reuse an item, donate it so others can.2

Swipe on the image left or right to explore ways everyday items can be reused. Do you have any you would add?

Step 3: Recycle

Many of the things we use every day, like paper bags, soda cans, and milk cartons, are made out of materials that can be recycled. Recycled items are put through a process that makes it possible to create new products out of the materials from the old ones. Touch or click on the tabs to explore tips for commonly recycled items.3

Paper
  • Newspapers should be saved in its own bin, as this material goes directly back into newsprint recycling.
  • Magazines, glossy printed flyers or newspaper inserts, phone books, envelopes, computer paper, old letters, and paper packaging can be saved together in one bin.
  • Do not include the following in your paper recycling: carbon paper, stickers, cardboard, laminated paper, laminated cardboard, food wrappers, or stained paper tissues.
  • Corrugated cardboard is a highly valued recyclable. Most curbside collectors ask you to bale the cardboard together and tie it with string. Plastic or waxy coated, and wet or greasy cardboard, such as pizza boxes, cannot be recycled because it clogs sorting machines.
Plastic
  • Plastic does not break down in landfills, and since It can be recycled to make many diverse products, effort should be made to recycle all plastic waste.
  • To make best use of plastics, consumers should choose the types of plastics which lend themselves most to reuse and recycling options. To learn about the recycling options for different types of plastic, check out this article: Plastics by the Numbers.
Glass
  • Glass is recycled according to color: green and brown. Recycling centers prefer it when glass is separated this way.
  • Paper labels can be left on the glass.
  • Store lightbulbs separately from bottles, since they have a different composition and not accepted by many recycling centers. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) may be recycled at your local IKEA store.
Aluminum
  • Aluminum cans are very valuable as recyclable items. Food cans should be rinsed and have lids and labels removed.
  • Aluminum foil and foil packaging are also important to recycle; they are reprocessed into aluminum mechanical components, such as engine parts.
  • Paint and aerosol cans are recyclable, but are considered hazardous waste and need to be kept separate from other metals. It is important to leave labels on these cans, as recyclers need to know the former contents.
Electronics
  • Pass it on. The simplest solution to recycling your old computer. Ask at a local school or put a notice on a community bulletin board offering your computer free for the taking. Many people without a computer will still find use with the word processor and basic programs.
  • Many places, such as Goodwill, have drop-off sites that you can take old electronics
  • HP Recycle - for a small fee, you can have old computer equipment picked up for recycling. 'Coupon' points are available from HP towards future purchases.
  • Old mobile phones can be sold to websites such as Gazelle