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The 3 Rs of Sustainable Living

Every good movement has a catchy phrase to remind you of its core principles. In sustainability, it’s the “3 Rs.”

Reduce reuse recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It’s that easy.

The 3 Rs can be applied to just about any sustainable living topic, typically in the order listed.

That is to say, your first priority in sustainable living should be to reduce your consumption. After reducing consumption, can you reuse or repurpose an item? Finally, if you can’t reuse or repurpose, can you recycle it? Throwing an item away is a last resort.

The 3 Rs in Practice

Let’s say that I’m looking to be more sustainable regarding my clothing. What actions can I take using the 3 Rs?

Reduce - With each item of clothing I consider buying, I can ask myself if I truly need it.

For example, have I worn down the interior cushioning of my shoes to the point where they hurt my feet and it would benefit my foot health to get new shoes?

Reuse - With clothing I currently have, I consider if there is a way to for me to repair the clothing to continue to use it or, if I can’t fix it, repurpose it for another use.

If the exterior of the shoes is still good, is it possible to simply replace the cushioning in the shoes with new inserts? If the exterior of the shoes isn’t good, could I have them repaired by a shoe cobbler?

Recycle - If I can’t reuse or repurpose the clothing, I find a way to dispose of it sustainably. Does the company that I purchased the shoes from have a program where they take back old shoes? If not, are there other companies or nonprofit organizations that take back and recycle old shoes?

I’m not saying that the shoe example will work for everyone. Each of us will have our own sustainability priorities and different sustainable changes that we are comfortable making.

The takeaway here is the ease at which you can use the 3 Rs to become more sustainable.

How can you apply the 3 Rs in your quest for sustainable living? Give it a try!


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