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Skill Introduction – Reduce & Reuse2019-01-21T15:06:20+00:00

Skill Introduction – Reduce & Reuse

Recycling is no doubt a positive step towards managing the 4.4 pounds of garbage created per person per day (1), but it simply isn’t enough to save the planet from the negative effects of this enormous amount of garbage. Take plastic for example. As much as two-thirds of plastic can’t be recycled, and the plastic that is recyclable can’t be reprocessed infinitely like metal and glass. Each time plastic is melted down, it decreases in quality and will eventually be discarded, where it remains on the planet in some form for 400 years or so. Unfortunately, plastic recyclable rates are substantially lower than other materials.

  • Auto batteries are most likely to be recycled with a 96% recycle rate (2).
  • Paper is recycled at a rate of 72% (2).
  • Plastic bottles and jars were recycled at a rate of 29.2% (2).

Recycling also uses energy and resources that can be costly. Recycling requires monitoring of collection sites, transportation and manufacturing. A struggling market for recycled material sometimes forces recycling facilities to dump recycled materials like paper at the landfill due to heavy supply and little demand. While it is a good idea to continue recycling, reducing waste to begin with and reusing what already exists are better first steps. In Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson recommends the five R’s in this order: Refuse (what you do not need), Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost) (3). By following the recommendation to first refuse, second reduce and third reuse, there is less waste that needs to be recycled. A few examples of refusing, reducing and reusing include:

  • Refuse junk mail and freebies.
  • Reduce your unnecessary consumption of products.
  • Replace disposables likes napkins, bags and bottles with reusables.

In addition to reducing and reusing materials such as plastic, glass, metal, cardboard, paper and electronics, reducing the amount of electricity and water used, fuel used for transportation and food waste is also important for our environment. Check out the resources in the Dig Deeper section below to learn more about how you can improve your eco-friendliness.  

In this Zero 2 Healthy Human skill, you will be guided step by step through challenges created to help you reduce and reuse your paper, plastic and aluminum consumption and set you on your way to becoming a Reduce & Reuse Master.

Dig Deeper & Learn More:

  1. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson.
  2. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-and-reusing-basics
  3. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home
  4. https://www.watercalculator.org/intro/


  1. EPA’s Web Archive, Municipal solid waste, Accessed November 12, 2018 <https://archive.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/web/html/>
  2. CBS News, Is recycling worth it? Accessed November 12, 2018 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-recycling-worth-it/.
  3. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson.