You might be thinking ‘hold on, there are 5 Rs?’ Absolutely. Being eco-friendly goes way beyond the blue bin. And while most of us 80s and 90s babes learned all about the 3 Rs in elementary school, there's more you can do, and with huge benefits not just for the earth, but for your health and pocket book too. At Lil Helper we are passionate about helping families try to be waste free. The 5 Rs are a great place to start. Let’s get into it.
Start your waste free journey with Recycle
This is the one we all know too well. Blue bins and green bins, plastic or paper. We rinse and sort and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. But did you know many of us might be unintentionally making mistakes that make it harder for recycling to be effective? Make sure you know what your city does and doesn’t accept, rinse items thoroughly, and take special items like plastic bags, batteries, and electronics to the right place. If we don’t recycle properly, we can actually end up contaminating the process and sending more items to the landfill.
When you can, Reuse what you have
Find a new way to use what you already have. Turn old cloths into beautiful crafting twine. Reuse cartons and tubs when it is time to start your seeds this year. And salsa jars make excellent drinking glasses.
You have to Reduce waste before you can be Waste Free
The best way to reduce your garbage is to buy larger packages. For example, instead of buying the twelve individual yogurt cups, its generally less wasteful to buy the large tub and divide it into reusable containers as you need at home. This is also when it is great to switch to a reusable option for disposables: switch to cloth diapers or menstrual pads. Use reusable cloth wipes instead of paper towel and Kleenex. Small steps can really reduce your garbage output.
When you forget your reusable options, can you simply Refuse?
Refusing unnecessary waste can also be helpful if it is not convenient in the moment to carry your own. If you only have a few items, but forgot your reusable bag, carry your groceries and refuse the plastic bag. You can also request no plastic utensils and napkins if you are getting takeout for at home. Any time we can cut down on consumption, the better. Being more minimalist and less consumerist can make a big impact on us as well. Buying higher quality that will last longer can have a big impact on both the clutter in our home and the trash coming out of it. Ask yourself, ‘do I really need this?’ before accepting or buying anything.
Last but not least let Rot help you go Waste Free
I was stunned when my family started kitchen composting, how much less we had to take out the trash. Our garbage can takes longer to fill, so we use less plastic bags, and instead of our food waste rotting in a landfill creating more harmful methane, it becomes a beautiful rich dirt I use in my gardens.
Starting home composting quickly grew into more gardening and learning about plants and health in a way that my kids love. Bonus, my kids love seeing the process of growing from compost to carrot and eat so many fresh veggies from the garden. It is great for our health and the planet.
Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, Refuse, Rot. 5 powerful ways you can make a big impact and move towards waste free living. Which one are you going to try next? Any tips you love that we missed? Tell us in the comments below!