For as long as I have known about the phrase “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” I literally never even thought about the first two words. The phrase [and the accompanying symbol] always just meant recycling to me – until recently. I now realize that reducing waste to begin with and reusing what I already have are actually the more important of the three principles. My goal now is to reduce the amount of waste I create to as little as possible, and then use reusable products for everything I can, and then, when all else fails, I will recycle what’s leftover.
The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy – raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money.
– Environmental Protection Agency (epa.gov)
I’ve been adding my own sustainability R’s as well, and one of them is “repurpose.”
Brett is really the master at repurposing, since he has created countless things for our home and yard out of reclaimed pallet wood. [I’ll brag about his pallet wood raised garden some other time.] But today I repurposed some old decorative signs that had been hanging in the bathroom at our old house. The set of three small wooden signs have been adding to the clutter in our lower level for a year and a half and today I decided to give them [well, two of them for now] a makeover.
There was a lot going on [as you can tell from my messy table], so it took me all day, but I got them done and up on the kitchen shelves.
I painted the signs white, then created the design on my computer, and drew it on with sharpie markers. I usually use paint, but I don’t even own a paintbrush small enough to get those thin lines perfect [trust me, I tried].
Well, those are two things at least that don’t have to be recycled now – and I get to enjoy them once again!