Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, reuse, recycle, these are the words taught to us at an early age to create a cleaner Earth. But for many of us, debating whether a container is recyclable and determining which bin to put it in can leave us with questions and uncertainty. While recycling is vital for both a healthier environment and future generations, wishful recycling, or tossing an item in the recycling bin in the hopes it ends up being recyclable, can contaminate the rest of the collection and add to the pileup of landfills.
To avoid this contamination, the phrase, “When in doubt, throw it out,” has become a popular motto to eliminate wishful recycling.
We have become wasteful as a society, but the more people understand, the more they’ll push toward a change in product development. Doing your small part to make the best decisions for the products you purchase, donate and manage can have a world of impact.
As people seek to better understand how to avoid wishful recycling, tending to the appropriate disposal of clothing, textiles and household items is not always discussed as frequently. Each year, the average person throws away 50 pounds of clothing, making up about 10% of our waste stream, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.
While Goodwill has different methods for reusing and downcycling products, 60% of its waste results from people dropping off items that are dilapidated or not accepted.
Not only is understanding what you’re donating and the quality of those items beneficial for the community but buying used products can save the natural resources it takes to develop a new product. If you’re purchasing something that’s used, you increase the life of that product. As a result, it helps reduce the production of brand-new products. Reducing our own individual impact on waste through reusing and recycling couldn’t be more important for our continuous existence.