The Emphasis is on the Reduce

We’ve all heard the cute little slogan – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – I am hearing JH sing it in my head right now (he has been busting it out since we started this project, it’s catchy).  The first and sometimes second are often forgotten in this friendly chain of instructions on how to save the environment.  We’ve seen massive recycling campaigns in the last five years (though so many businesses and households are still not opting for their green and blue bins) but we’ve yet to see a push for a reduction in overall waste.  Why?

I’ve got a theory and it’s not very patriotic, but I do believe it’s validity would stand up if you put it to the test.  Reduce  aka USE LESS is not the American way.   We pride ourselves on having things (big things) and lots of them and we’re not generally willing to accept the notion that there isn’t a way to fix all of the environment’s (and economy’s) problems and still allow us to live in the status quo.

Example: We shouldn’t drive smaller cars, we should make our bigger cars hybrids.  The rest of the world laughs at us as we tout our 20 mpg mid-size SUVs as fuel efficient.

I digress.  The point is, if the rate at which we recycle keeps increasing, doesn’t this also mean we are consuming more and thereby increasing waste and toxins through production?  Instead of focusing so heavily on the last part of our little song, shouldn’t we start with the beginning?  Robin at Sustainablog makes an excellent case for reduction of overall consumption and points out that recycling is only as effective as the demand for recycled goods.   What happens when that demand drops?

This is not a public service announcement for the cessation of all recycling programs – simply a reminder that first comes reduce – then reuse – THEN recycle.  We would be wise to heed both the advice and the order of it.

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter: ashleyatcaster

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One Response

  1. […] about a billion. The real question is how many of those are recycled? And isn’t the saying REDUCE, reuse, recycle? Spending three bucks on a completely unoriginal, non-unique card just so they can […]

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