Tops December 2016 Green Tips: Recycle, Reuse and Re-Purpose

We are all about reducing our waste, water, and energy usage; the most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy – raw materials must be extracted from the earth, the product must then be fabricated and transported. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money. How big a problem is waste? According to the World Watch Institute, with only 5% of the world population, the U.S. generates more waste than any other country in the world. And in less than 15 years, worldwide waste is expected to double. So, let’s learn more about what these recycling, reusing and repurposing things are all about:

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  • Recycling involves the processing of used materials. The process collects the recyclables, sorts and processes the recyclable materials into raw materials such as fibers, glass, and metals (to name a few) and manufactures new products out of these raw materials. Subsequently, the purchasing of products made from recycled materials creates a circle or loop, and is critical to the overall value and success of recycling. Remember how important it is to purchase recycled products, too, which helps ensure that recycling becomes an economically viable activity within our communities. With the help of standardized labels displayed on recycling bins throughout the country, recycling will thrive even more. When the U.S. recycling levels reach 75%, (currently at 22%), it will be the environmental equivalent of removing 50 million cars from the road each year and it will generate 1.5 million new jobs.
  • Reusing materials. Reuse things in their original form instead of throwing them away or pass them onto someone who could use them. Some examples of reuse: bringing travel mugs or washable water bottles instead of using disposables. If you do use plastic cups, plates, food storage bags, etc., wash and reuse them. Would you throw away your bicycle after one use? No way! So don’t let the purchase price of an item determine if it should be thrown away; consider the entire cost of the item, which includes the cost of making, transporting and throwing away that item.
  • Re-purposing materials. To repurpose something is to use it for something else before it goes through any breakdown or reformation. For example, pallet repurposing has become a popular trend, which I have engaged in, making a desk out old pallets. You can also easily repurpose fabric; take that old shirt from your bottom drawer and make it into potholders! Almost anything can be repurposed with some imagination and elbow grease. Have fun being creative or donate old materials to someone who will.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. For more information, check out the internet or email Jude Frates, Sustainability Consultant, at: jude@fratesconsulting.biz.

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