Reducing and Reusing Are Even Better Than Recycling!

You know we--at Emmet County Recycling--are ALL ABOUT recycling! But we have to admit, from an environmental stand point, reusing and reducing are even better than recycling. So we'll be sharing great examples you can try at home, at work and out-and-about. Plus we'll introduce you to new (and blast-from-the-past) opportunities to reuse and reduce that we are hearing about in trade publications.

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What does “reducing” really mean?

Getting your head around reducing waste can be challenging. Try thinking of there being three varieties of reducing

  1. Redesigning is when manufacturers reduce the amount of material they use to create a package or product. It's a win-win, saving the manufacturer on materials costs and reducing the impact of making and transporting that package or product. One example is the difference between a single-serve pop bottle and those paper-thin water bottles that are common now. All water bottles used to be as thick as today's pop bottles. Clearly those paper-thin bottles use less plastic to accomplish the same job.
  2. Replacing, as in replacing something disposable or recyclable with something you will reuse many, many times. Using the example of a water bottle again, if someone is buying bottled water every day and switches to tap or water-cooler water served in a drinking glass or reusable water bottles, they will reduce demand to produce water bottles by hundreds or even thousands of bottles per year.
  3. Reprioritizing. Generally, our society is committed to the belief that more is better. But many of us are realizing that when we have more things than we actively use, managing all that stuff can take our time and energy away from more important things in life. What flows from this choice? When we choose to buy fewer things, that also reduces waste. There are great tips online for discerning what things really add value to your life and which you would never miss. (Search on “decluttering” or “minimalism.”)


Whether you're reusing by

  • replacing a bunch of something disposable or recyclable with something reusable (Yes, this overlaps with #2 under reducing.) or
  • offering good things you don't want anymore for others to use (think passing clothes down, garage sales, second-hand stores, online auctions, exchange parties) or
  • getting things you need second-hand instead of buying new,

it's great for the environment. And the economy. Even better than recycling!