The 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle
Refuse to buy wasteful or non-recyclable products. Refuse unnecessary packaging,
such as plastic bags. Make smarter
purchasing decisions to reduce waste.
Reduce your consumption of harmful, wasteful and non-recyclable products and your dependency on them. Some changes to consider: reducing your use of single-use plastics, always print double sides, avoid Styrofoam cups.
Information and image adapted from:
Recycling is the last step in the 5 Rs processes once you have exhausted all your other options. Cardboard, paper, plastics, aluminum and glass can all be recycled. Reduce your waste and create an effective recycling program for your home or business.
The world has become accustomed to only using things once. Find ways to repurpose items you normally throw away. Replace single-use products, such as plates, utensils, and napkins, with reusable ones.
Also referred to as upcycling. This step requires some creativity to find new uses for items. For example, cardboard boxes and mugs can be used to hold and store items. Find unconventional ways to repurpose things before throwing them away.
Why are sustainable products important and how to tell if something is truly sustainable?
By Kessa Stydinger
According to the EPA, each person in the U.S produces almost 5 pounds of waste every year. This means that the U.S. alone is making over 267 million tons of trash per year. The first step in choosing a more environmentally friendly lifestyle is to follow the 5 Rs. These will guide you to live a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce the amount of waste you produce. Second, many products claim to be eco-friendly and aren't necessarily green. It takes a little research and knowledge to know if a product is truly keeping the environment in mind.
Good Housekeeping talked with environmental experts and conducted their own research to figure out how to be more sustainable and what products are actually eco-friendly.
First, bring your reusable bag with you when doing any kind of shopping. Plastic bags are an easy to replace single-use item and are way more durable.
Additionally, look for third party emblems that prove a company's commitment to being eco-friendly. Good Housekeeping recommends looking for EcoCert Cosmos to find organic cosmetic products, GreenGuard Certified for various products and a Fair-Trade Certified emblem for eco-friendly ingredients and foods.
Lastly, for cloth materials, such as bedding and clothes, first try to buy second hand if at all possible. Search your local thrift store for great finds before heading to the store and buying new products. Buying used materials is a great way to reuse something that you were otherwise going to buy full price and new.
After taking all of these recommendations into consideration, try doing a little research and paying attention to clues to see if a product/organization is sustainable. Waste Advantage Magazine warns that many products will do something called "greenwashing". This is when a product, packaging or label is colored with green or earth tones to seem earth friendly.
Buyers should also look at the company's website or packaging and see what specific words they use to claim how green they are. Vague words, such as green, are hard to interpret and can mean many different things. Instead, look for statics and specific details, such as made from 100% recycled materials.
Another way to figure out if a company has true sustainable intentions is to check the company's PR efforts and newsroom. They may highlight different efforts the company is working on to improve its sustainability and report any awards for its efforts. One last simple thing you can do is a Google search to see what the media is saying about the company's green efforts.
There are many easy and small ways to have a more sustainable lifestyle, it just takes practice and knowledge about how to incorporate this into your daily life. Many companies are making sustainability a large part of how they want to make a positive impact in their communities. By doing a simple search and watching what products you buy at the store, you can also make a positive impact on the planet and your community. Before you know it your waste consumption will be well below 5 pounds a day and you will be living a more sustainable lifestyle. Below are some businesses that centered their whole business plan around sustainability and are revolutionizing products that have remained wasteful for centuries.
Blueland created a sustainable way of cleaning. Blueland's reusable bottles come with tablets that you simply drop into the bottle full of water and it makes a powerful cleaner. They sell tablets for various surfaces, including glass, hands, the laundry, dishes and bathroom. With these tablets and reusable bottles, they hope to eliminate the plastic waste from cleaning supplies and reduce trash dumped into the oceans.
Blueland: Earth friendly cleaning supplies
Bite: Plastic-free way to brush your teeth
Bite is a plastic-free, cruelty-free and cleaner way of cleaning your teeth. The company wants to eliminate the 1 billion toothpaste tubes throw away each year. Bite is a zero waste company and was featured in many top magazines for its innovative and sustainable change to everyone's daily routine.
REI: Reselling good, used gear
REI takes back lightly used items and resells them to customers to reduce the need to produce new products. REI's mission is to keep perfectly good outdoor materials from being thrown away when someone else would love to have it.
Pela: Eco-Friendly phone accessories
Pela is the world's first 100% compostable phone case made from plants. Their goal is to reduce the over 1 billion plastic phone cases made each year. Their products use less water, less carbon emissions and create much less waste production. The company even offers a service called Pela360. The company will send you an extra envelope when you buy one of its cases so you can send your old one to them and they will recycle or reuse the material. Additionally, the company is carbon neutral.
The Earthling Co: Eco-friendly alternatives to everyday products
The Earthling Co. makes earth-friendly alternatives to everyday products, such as shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, combs, lip balm and much more. The company makes hair care bars that don't use plastic packaging and everyday tools made of natural elements. They also donate money to Earth Force, a company that teaches the younger generation to solve environmental issues in their communities.