2014 Resolutions: Reduce, Reuse…before you Recycle!

Photo Credit: Suzy Skye

Photo Credit: Suzy Skye

As the new year approaches, many of us think about resolutions, reorganizing, beginning anew…throwing away old and inefficient practices for better and more effective ways for our lives to function. High up on many people’s list is to take better care of our planet, and a first step for many is to learn more about recycling.

We are thrilled to share the following guest post with you by Clint Robertson who reminds us to think about our impact at every step along the way. Clint reminds us that recycling shouldn’t necessarily be the beginning to cleaning up our act. Grab the kids in your life and share Clint’s post with them. Take time this vacation, before you and your kids return to work and school and your busy lives, to come up with your own plans to figure out how you can “reduce and reuse” in your lives in 2014, BEFORE you recycle….

By Clint Robertson

shutterstock_34346632When people think about going green, the adage that often comes to mind is “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Recycling is the sexy option of the three, and according to the Bureau of International Recycling, recycled materials satisfy 40 percent of the global raw material demand. Though recovery of resources is essential to minimizing landfill waste, it should be a final resort to prevent wasteful disposal. Whether it is metal, plastic, paper or fabric, the process of recycling still requires more energy than making smarter choices about consumption to begin with and reusing products whenever possible. Rather than just recycle, in 2014 we should resolve to reduce and reuse more than ever before. Ultimately, the results will support the environment and our budgets.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Recycling isn’t a cure-all to energy and environmental issues. According to the National Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of all food purchased in America is thrown out, wasting the land and energy required to grow, package and transport this food. Ultimately, reducing our overall consumption and reusing products when possible would have a greater environmental benefit. The benefits of reducing consumption and reusing items can be seen without giving up your current lifestyle, and may help you accomplish your other New Year’s resolutions. Here are three additional benefits to reducing and reusing.

1. Less “stuff”: Our fondness for material goods significantly impacts our lives, but it may not be for the better. According to a study published by researchers at UCLA, stress hormones spiked for mothers when they were forced to manage their material belongings. You don’t need to be able to fit all of your belongings into one suitcase, but halting your accumulation of “stuff” can allow for peace of mind and give you an opportunity to reprioritize your belongings.

2. Save money: Many people set out with the abstract New Year’s resolution of getting out of debt or building up some savings. Saving money and energy go hand in hand, and for many it can start with energy consumption at home. Thanks to the deregulation of electricity and natural gas markets in numerous states, many residents can shop for lower rates and start saving on their monthly bills. Even residents of non-deregulated states can increase their savings by reducing their energy consumption. A small upfront commitment can lead to significant savings with a short payback period and decrease your overall environmental footprint. Whether you’re retrofitting LED lights or insulating your windows, saving energy can lead to the financial freedom you’re looking for.

3. Support the local community: For working adults, finding time for community involvement can be difficult. However, donating lightly used items can have a valuable impact on less fortunate individuals and families, without the environmental or financial burden of donating a newly purchased item. If you need a financial incentive, remember that your donations to organizations such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army may qualify you for tax deductions.

shutterstock_12515080If you’ve previously struggled to stick with your New Year’s resolutions, thinking about how you can reduce and reuse in your everyday activities may be a catalyst to propel you toward your other goals. Too often, we justify purchases because the item has been recycled. But if recycling becomes a preventive measure and less of a justification of our consumption, we can have a larger positive impact on the environment.

Clint Robertson is a freelance writer who has held numerous positions in the energy industry. His work promotes ways to reduce our carbon footprint through the development and utilization of renewable energy sources. You can reach out to him directly on twitter.

This entry was posted in Climate Mama News, Earth Day is Every Day, Lifestyle & Fun, Recycling and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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