The Four ‘R’s of Waste Reduction
When trying to reduce your personal waste, consider the following:
Reduce: Make decisions that reduce the amount of waste that you generate.
What services do you need from the things in your life? Could you get the services you need without purchasing new products? In those cases when you need new products, can you purchase in bulk or make selections with reduced or recyclable packaging?
Re-Use: Purchase gently-used products and/or durable products that can be re-used.
Can you get the service that you need, or provide someone else with the service that they need, by re-using a product or sharing that product with someone else? Disposable products provide convenience and can also generate a great deal of waste.
Recycle: Sort your waste according to the “What To Recycle at Wake Forest” guide.
When you need to consume something new, can you choose an option that is recyclable and/or comes in recyclable packaging? Can it be recycled into the same thing again? Or, can it be down-cycled – taken apart so that its components can either be re-purposed or recycled? Recycling takes time, person power, and energy. We should consider it as an option after reducing and re-using.
For details on what can be recycled at Wake Forest, download this guide.
Re-Buy: Purchase products with recycled content.
Can you find product options with recycled content? The determination of what can be recycled is based on technology and markets. An aluminum can will be recycled into another aluminum can over and over. There are well established markets for aluminum and the process saves both raw materials and energy. A plastic bottle, however, is not recycled into another plastic bottle – it is shredded and re-purposed into other products like carpet, polar fleece, and plastic lumber. The composition of various plastics determines what types of products they can be made into. Plastics are collected and sold on the open market to processors who make products with recycled content.