Reduce Reuse Recycle
Green Living

The Basics of Living a Sustainable Life: The 3 R’s

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 

The phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” – also known as the 3 R’s – was coined in the 1970’s as a way of bringing awareness to environmental issues.  These are the most basic ways to be more sustainable in your everyday life. 

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Are the three R’s even being taught in school anymore??  I can clearly remember learning about them in elementary school.  I also remember reading and rereading a book my Grandma bought for me one birthday, “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth” by The EarthWorks Group.  

(Buy the updated version here!):

Learning about the 3 R’s and reading this book made a huge impression on me as a kid and I think it’s time to remind everyone out there how big of an impact small changes can make. 

Living a sustainable life: Reduce, reuse, recycle


“The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place” (  


Reducing is simple and just takes some thought.  Before you toss something in your shopping cart or hit “Buy Now” online, assess if you really need the item or if you can borrow it, rent it, or make do without instead.  

Food Waste

Reduce your food waste by creating meal plans, not shopping in excess, utilizing food before it goes bad, composting, or donating foods you no longer need. 


Find ways to drive less.  Batch your errands to consolidate the number of days you’re driving around town.  Walk, bike, or carpool to school, work, lunch, the library, etc.  

Living a sustainable life: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


Shop Second Hand

Thrift shops carry everything from clothes, kitchen items, home decor, kids toys, books, outdoor equipment, and more. If you can find something second hand, you are extending the life of an item instead of buying new and creating more demand for said item.  

Repurpose Items

Before something ends up in the trash, ask yourself if it can be used for anything else.  Old clothing can be turned into rags, clean jars can be used for food and pantry storage, ribbons from packaging can be saved for gift wrap or crafts.  

Basics of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


“Products should only be recycled if they cannot be reduced or reused” (

Don’t slack when it comes to recycling.  Most of us know the obvious ones (paper, glass, cardboard, plastics), but research your local recycling policies. Make sure you’re throwing the correct items in the correct bin.  

Did you know? Most big box stores have a recycling drop near the front for plastic grocery bags.  There are also programs to assist in donating or recycling electronics responsibly – search your local area.  

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

What’s your favorite way to reduce, reuse, or recycle? Leave a comment below!

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