October 20, 2009

The Three R's

In case you’ve not been paying attention, the Three R’s no longer refers to reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. Rather, they’re shorthand for the Three R’s of the environment: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Recycling is now mainstream. Drive the streets of Larchmont before 7 a.m. on Wednesday and virtually every home has the familiar green container for glass, metal and plastic recyclables, and, in homes where newspapers are still a habit, stacks of them along with bags of waste paper.

Now it’s time to make other two – Reduce and Reuse part of everyone’s lexicon.

Tuesday’s New York Times has a front page article on the efforts to reduce the amount of material recycled not – heavens forbid – by adding it to the garbage, but by actually reducing the amount of garbage created. Sound complicated? It really isn’t.

Here’s some quick ways you can reduce the amount of total waste--recycled or put into the garbage—from your home.
  • Stop accepting plastic bags. You may already be in the habit of using your own bags in the grocery; now it’s time to take them with you to CVS, Foley's and other merchants in town.

  • Cancel unwanted catalogs. There are several services to chose from. I’ve found Catalog Choice to be effective.

  • Look for products with a minimum of packaging. Produce at the Farmer’s Market is not only fresher, it doesn’t have Styrofoam and plastic wrap all over it.

  • Compost. It really isn't complicated, and it doesn't take long to turn grass clippings, leaves and kitchen waste turn into rich, nutrious compost for your flower beds and vegetable garden.

  • Rent or borrow, rather than buy. If you’re not going to use something every week or month, think twice before buying it.

  • Get a battery charger. Not only will you be keeping dangerous chemicals from the landfill, but you’ll save money over the long run.

  • Use both sides of the paper. How much paper do you print, then toss, each week? Use your “mistakes” for scrap paper or reload your printer and make use of the blank side.

  • Drink tap water. Use a refillable water bottle instead of bottled water. It's healthy and you'll save a bundle.

  • Donate. Bring your out-of-date eyeglasses to LensCrafters. Give your gently used furniture a new home through Furniture Sharehouse. List other items on Treasure Hunt, Westchester County's free data bank for used items.

  • Buy in bulk. Instead of buying single-portion snacks and items for lunches, use small, reusable plastic containers that can be washed and used, again and again.
Any of these would make a great start. Do you have other ideas? Please add them to the list.


  1. If you are looking for a new pair of glasses, then check out GlassesShop.com. I encourage anyone looking to save some money and get a bigger selection to search online.