Guest Contributor: Andrea Schmutz
USU Extension Assistant Professor
Knowing that most everyone appreciates a little more green in their wallet, especially as we head into holiday season, I’d like to share my most recent epiphany. I was reading about “America Recycles Day”, where each year, on or near November 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the importance and impact of recycling to our nation’s economy and environment. The EPA’s website, epa.gov, provides fantastic information about greener living, recycling and reducing waste. As I perused an infographic on the website titled “Think Green Before You Shop”, I suddenly realized that the three R’s of environmental sustainability: reduce, reuse, and recycle, could also be called the three R’s of budget sustainability.
Reduce: The first “R” is about creating less waste. This includes only buying what you need, choosing products with less packaging, and looking for items you can reuse. Some questions to ask when shopping are:
Reuse: The second “R” focuses on finding ways to use items multiple times before replacing them or choosing items that can be reused instead of choosing their disposable counterparts. For example, use a refillable water bottle instead of buying the disposable ones or take real silverware for lunch at work instead of using disposable utensils. Some great kitchen hacks that involve reusing items are:
Recycle: According to the EPA, recycling is “the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products”. This might mean placing items in the recycle bin to be carried away and used to manufacture something else. For me, this becomes a game and a challenge to use my creativity. At our house, the kids will hold up a piece of “trash” and ask, “Can we make anything out of this or should I throw it away?” Fun ideas for recycling:
Rethink: I realize this is technically a fourth “R”, but I think it wraps things up nicely. This year, celebrate America Recycles Day by rethinking some of your daily habits and choosing to live a little “greener”. Not only will you be helping the environment, you will also be helping your budget.
Parting thought: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
- attributed to Calvin Coolidge
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