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Follow The 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

empty bottles and cans for recycling
Nick Fewings

R3 reminds you to follow the 3 R’s--Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! R3 is Central Virginia Waste Management Authority’s (CVWMA)recycling mascot and CVWMA is Central Virginia’s Recycling Authority. Many communities throughout Virginia and the U.S. have recycling programs in place. But, recycling is just one part of the equation. Reducing, reusing and recycling go hand in hand to help us all improve our environment.

How many of the activities listed below do you and your family already do? Can you think of other ways you can reduce, reuse or recycle?

  • Reduce – throw away less by buying only what you need and by buying fewer disposable and over-packaged products.
    • Use washable dishes instead of paper plates and cups.
    • Use a reusable water bottle instead of single serve water bottles.
    • Bring your own bag to the grocery store.
    • Pack a litterless lunch with only containers that can be recycled or washed.
    • Have furniture, toys, and appliances repaired instead of tossing them and getting new ones.
  • Reuse – use items over and over or give gently used items to others.
    • Reuse containers, bags boxes, tubs, cups, bottles, and jars over and over before discarding or recycling.
    • Pass down outgrown clothing, books, and toys to younger brothers and sisters, donate to charity or have a yard sale.
    • Collect rainwater in a rain barrel to use to water the garden.
    • Take “garbage” and make it into something new to use or to play with.
    • Take your food scraps and yard waste and start a compost bin in your back yard.
  • Recycle – as much as you can by collecting recyclable materials to be picked up at the curb or taken to a drop-off location and made into new products.

    • Collect paper and beverage containers and find the best way to recycle them in your community so they can be made into recycled paper and new beverage containers.
    • Have your schoolwork with a recycling partner to collect and recycle inkjet cartridges, cell phones, bottle caps or aluminum tabs.
    • Collect aluminum cans and take to your local metal recycler for redemption.
    • Look for the recycling symbol and buy recycled products like recycled content paper, cards, and paper towels.
    • Encourage your parents to look for recycling centers that accept things like tires, batteries, motor oil, paints, and electronics for recycling too.

Why should we bother to reduce, reuse and recycle?

  • It’s easy – Most localities have curbside pick-up or drop-off locations for your recyclables. Contact your locality or visit Earth 911 to find out what you can recycle and where, and recycle more or start today.
  • It saves natural resources – Plastic is made from petroleum, aluminum from an ore called bauxite, tin cans from mostly steel, and paper from trees. Recycling these materials means fewer natural resources need to be mined or harvested. Glass, steel, aluminum, and plastic can be recycled over and over again.
  • It saves money – Recycling saves fuel and transportation costs and saves on garbage disposal fees.
  • It saves energy – Recycling just one aluminum can instead of making it from scratch saves enough energy to run a computer for 3 hours.
  • It saves landfill space – Our landfills are getting full. Putting only materials that can’t be reused or recycled in the trash will make landfills last longer. Plastic, aluminum, paper, and other recyclable materials do us no good trapped in a landfill.
  • It reduces pollution and protects the environment – Recycling reduces air and water pollution and mining waste because it uses less energy and causes less damage to land and water than mining and harvesting.

Want to do more?  Try these activities at home from CVWMA’s Kids page:

  • Recycled Paper Making – make your own recycled paper using old scraps and a blender.
  • Recycled Craft Making – be creative, make new toys, games and other items from your trash and recycling.

Want to learn more? Visit these recycling and waste management links:

  • The Central Virginia Waste Management Authority’s website for a list of waste management resources for teachers and topical information about recycling like recycling for fundraising and junk mail reduction.
  • Virginia Trekkers and find out what happens to your garbage at a landfill by taking a virtual tour of a Henrico Landfillor find out where your recycling goes by visiting a Recycling Center
  • Earth 911 to search what and where you can recycle in an area near you.

Article by: Stephanie Feaser, Public Information Assistant, Central Virginia Waste Management Authority

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