7 R's of Eco-Friendly Waste Management

We all need to do more to reduce the amount of waste we produce and protect the environment. These 7 R’s are an easy checklist you can think through before you buy and before you throw something away. Could I have refused? If not, could I have reduced? Could I have chosen a reusable alternative? Before anything ends up in the trash, ask yourself if it could be repaired or repurposed. If not, can it be recycled? Will it rot?

1. Refuse

REFUSE: Reducing the amount of waste we produce begins with refusing unnecessary items and packaging.

  • Saying no to single-use plastic bags and carrying a reusable bag instead
  • Declining plastic cutlery and straws when eating out or ordering takeout
  • Choosing products with minimal or recyclable packaging

2. Reduce

REDUCE: Reducing the amount of waste we produce can also be achieved by using fewer resources and choosing more efficient products.

  • Turning off lights and appliances when not in use to reduce energy consumption
  • Choosing energy-efficient appliances and products
  • Using a reusable water bottle instead of buying single-use plastic bottles

3. Reuse

REUSE: Reusing items instead of disposing of them after a single use can significantly reduce waste. 

  • Using a reusable coffee cup or water bottle instead of disposable ones
  • Donating or selling gently used clothing, furniture, and other household items
  • Using cloth napkins and towels instead of paper ones

4. Repair

REPAIR: By extending the life of items instead of automatically replacing them, we can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and conserve resources that would have been used to produce new products.

  • Fixing a leaking faucet or a broken appliance instead of replacing it
  • Taking a damaged item to a repair shop or attempting to repair it yourself
  • Maintaining equipment and vehicles to prevent breakdowns or malfunction

5. Repurpose

REPURPOSE: Reduce waste by finding new uses for items that would otherwise be discarded.

  • Upcycling, or finding a new use for an item that is more valuable or useful than its original purpose
  • Using old clothing or textiles to create new items, such as quilts or rags
  • Turning an old dresser into a bookshelf or a bench
  • Using empty food containers, such as jars or tins, to store household items or create crafts

6. Recycle

RECYCLE: Recycling materials that can be made into new products conserves resources and reduces waste. 

  • Putting paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal in a recycling bin
  • Taking electronics, batteries, and other hazardous waste to a designated recycling center
  • Participating in programs that recycle specific items, such as printer cartridges or cellphones

7. Rot

ROT: Composting organic waste, such as food scraps and yard waste, creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be used in gardening and landscaping.

  • Setting up a backyard compost bin or participating in a community composting program
  • Adding food scraps and yard waste to a compost bin instead of throwing it in the trash
  • Using compost to enrich soil in gardens and landscaping