2.4 The 4Rs to save the planet, environmentally friendly solutions
By growing awareness and gaining an understanding of the environmental impacts we have on our planet, we can be better informed of where and how to act. From a lack of consideration of the environment in the way we manage waste to mass-producing throw-away items to keep up with demand. Thankfully things are changing and understanding the importance of the 4Rs can certainly help us inform our choices.
The first step towards understanding the importance of the 4Rs and making a difference is to Refuse. Learn How to Say No and Mean It!
- Start bringing metal straws and coffee tumblers for your drinks
- Use eco-bags whenever you go shopping instead of using paper and plastic bags
- Avoid buying individually packaged candy
- Opt to receive your bills online instead of getting paper bills
- Avoid using disposable plates, utensils, and cups
Reduce is about using less and having less of an impact on the environment. Part of throwing away less is buying less, and being more mindful as a consumer. Before you purchase something, consider whether you really need it, and how many uses you’ll get out of it.
- Instead of buying cheap clothes you’ll need to replace in a few months, invest in well-made items that will last you for years
- Donate old clothes and any items that are still in good condition to charity, instead of tossing them out
- Do not use disposable products
- Be a proportionate and wise consumer
- Buy products without unnecessary packaging, as much as possible
- Repair and reuse products instead of throwing them out and buying new ones
- Buy second-hand products and clothing
Reuse refers to using products more than once, for the same purpose. Before tossing out your trash, consider whether it can be repurposed as something else.
- Use a chipped mug as a pen or toothbrush holder
- Re-use old jars, pots, bottles, and plastic Tupperware
- Purchase rechargeable batteries
- Turn single-use plastics into ecobricks
- Buying and selling or donating products from and to second-hand stores
- Taking books and other products out of libraries
Recycling is the process of removing materials from the waste stream and using them as raw materials to create new products. After refusing, reducing, and reusing, recycling is the last resort in the waste management hierarchy.
There are several types of recycling plants, including:
- Electronic waste: Factories dismantle electric and electronic equipment so that the metals and plastic can be used to create new products.
- Glass: Factories use glass waste to make new glass bottles.
- Plastic: Factories receive plastic from the recycling bins, from other factories, from greenhouses, and more, and produce flakes that are used to make new plastic products.
- Tires: Tires are collected, shredded, and used in a variety of ways, such as to produce insulation sheets, playground platforms, and more.
- Construction waste: Factories mainly produce aggregates – mainly sand, gravel, and slurry