Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: the Cornerstones of Sustainability

Those three words – reduce, reuse, recycle are certainly not new concepts.  We’ve been hearing about the importance of the three R’s for decades; and when it comes to maintaining healthy communities and environments, we should never underestimate the value of reducing, reusing, and recycling.  More importantly, the three R’s can help us save money and energy while simultaneously protecting our precious natural resources.  However, once critical component of the three R’s that is often overlooked is that they are actually a hierarchy – first reduce, then reuse, then recycle.

But what exactly does that mean?  The 24-Hour Junk Team would like to give you some tips for how you can employ these cornerstones of sustainability more effectively.

Reduce and Reuse

The concepts of reduce and reuse are directly focused at creating less waste.  While all of the three R’s should cut down on the amount of garbage going to landfills, reducing is fundamental in eliminating unnecessary waste.  When we reduce, we don’t need to employ higher levels of the sustainability hierarchy (i.e. reusing or recycling).  By using less, we create less waste – it’s that simple.

That being said, reducing what we use requires careful reflection on how we use products, substances, and materials.  Shifting to multi-use items rather than single-use items is a great first step in reducing your waste.  You can also carefully consider your own perspectives on use.  Ask yourself if you really need that new item – by reducing spending on new clothing, new electronics, or new luxuries that may not be necessary in your life will not only save you waste but money too.  Additionally, consider whether an item can be repurposed rather than purchasing new items for the job.  For example, old t-shirts or towels make great rags.  As you can see, the concepts of reduce and reuse are closely linked – and if you repurpose an item you ultimately reduce the amount of waste you create.

Other tips for reducing waste:

  • Double-sided printing to use both sides of a page
  • Sign up for electronic billing
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper
  • Use glass or reusable containers rather than Ziploc bags
  • Avoid disposable conveniences such as cups and cutlery at parties
  • Invest in quality items that last longer

Carefully considering how you can reuse or repurpose items can also eliminate unnecessary waste.  Old furniture can be refinished, electronics can be repaired, and clothing and household items can be donated to second-hand shops.  You can even buy items for your home and family second hand so that you can rest easy knowing your waste footprint is smaller while you save money.   Other examples of reusing items include:

  • Save packing materials so they can be reused
  • Save old jars for food storage containers
  • Books, clothes, electronics, and appliances can be donated
  • Repurpose old clothes to make tote bags
  • Patch clothing with creative designs

There are many small changes to lifestyle that can make a huge impact when it comes to waste management – try to think of other ways you can reduce and reuse.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


At the top of the waste management hierarchy is recycling.  When you haven’t been able to reduce or reuse items to eliminate or prevent waste, recycling is the final step you can take toward a more sustainable community.  Most items we use on a daily basis cannot be recycled, which is why it is important to realize that recycling is your last effort.  Most cities in North America have well-developed recycling programs, and you can also choose to purchase products that are made from recycled materials.  Remember to follow municipal recycling guidelines closely so that you can be sure that your items won’t end up in a landfill.  Carefully clean used containers and sort recyclables accordingly.

Ultimately, the 24-Hour Junk Team is poised to help you in your goal to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  When we remove waste from your home or business, we can help you organize materials so they are disposed of sustainably.  We can take items for donation or recycling to the appropriate facilities.  Speak with one of our customer service representatives today to learn more about how our team at 24 Hour Junk can help today!