Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Know Your Three R's

No this isn't a post about Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Instead this is a post regarding the environment. Today is Earth Day and everyone should be practicing the Three R's. Most people know they are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It's ironic that the generations before us practiced this daily, and it's only in the last century that we have become so wasteful of our resources. There are many ways we can practice them daily and teach them to our children. There are actually too many ways to list them all but I will discuss each one with some examples. Being frugal or thrifty goes hand in hand with the Three R's. You help the environment while helping your pocket book. It's a great combination.

Reduce: Think more about your purchases. There are many items we buy in our lives that we don't really need. Instead of stopping daily for a cup of coffee, how about making your own. You can put it in a commuter mug or thermos which helps to cut down on those cups. So less trash in the landfills. Stop buying bottled water. This is a major landfill contributor. I have a water filter which is more expensive upfront, but I am definitely saving more money yearly. Many bottled water companies aren't selling you pure spring water. It's just tap water so do some research. Stop using throwaway dishes and utensils. Start using dishes that can be washed and reused over time. Stop using paper napkins and switch to cloth. I just throw mine in the load of towels and doesn't cost me any extra in water or energy. You can buy less convenience foods which create more trash and aren't good for you. Use ingredients that can do double duty. I buy vinegar and baking soda which can clean my house, my laundry, cooking, and so much more. Instead of having to buy several cleaners for each job, I make a general cleaner that can do all those jobs and only paid for 2 ingredients. I also feel good about using them in my home around my son. No toxic ingredients going down the drain plus no harmful fumes.

Reuse: This is a harder one for some people. Don't use paper napkins and throwaway dishes but use ones that can be washed. Not using those items are both great examples of reducing and reusing. Packaging isn't always made in a way that could be reused like flour sacks. They used to be made with a material that could be reused into clothing. There are still ways to reuse like vegetable and fruit peelings. These can be put into a compost pile or just chop them up smaller and use as mulch around your outside plants. This can also be done with tea bags, coffee grinds, and egg shells. Most non-meat food scraps can go into a compost pile. This is good for the plants and less trash. Compost makes the most wonderful soil which adds the needed nutrients that plants need. You can also rake up leaves to add to the pile or bag them up and let them rot. They make wonderful mulch. I actually rake them up in the fall and let them rot on top of garden during the winter. The soil looks wonderful when Spring rolls around. Clothes or socks that are full of holes can be used as cleaning rags. A sock makes a great dusting mitt. Old towels also make great rags. I take my son's school pants or jeans and will turn them into shorts, which extends the life of his clothes, plus saves me lots of money. I've also done this with a favorite shirt or pair of pajamas.

Recycle: This is the one that we hear about on a daily basis. This is a very important one, but if more people practiced the first two, then there would be less to recycle. Plastic, paper, cans, and glass bottles are all items that can be recycled. You can also recycle your ink cartridges and electronic batteries like cell phones and laptops. My school participates in recycling them and get a small amount of money for each one collected. The CFL bulbs have to be disposed at certain locations since they contain mercury which shouldn't be in a landfill. You can also donate your used items instead of putting them in the trash. It will help others and you may elect to take a tax deduction. There is also a great website called to help you find items and donate your used items. Check the website to find a local chapter near you. We all need to work together to preserve our wonderful Earth for our children and future generations.