3 R's to be Sustainable - GTEC Student Voices Blog

Isabella from Richmond

As the worldwide population increases, it is inevitable that waste will continue to pile up and pollute our environment, that’s why it is so important to implement the practice of sustainability. Sustainability is the perseverance of long-lasting practices in everyday life. With global benefits of reducing pollution and preserving natural resources for future generations and individual benefits of saving money and reducing waste as well. Simple adjustments in personal habits and practices can lead you one step closer to helping the world at large become more sustainable. The 3 R’s are a great start to beginning a sustainable lifestyle and they include: reuse, reduce, and recycle.

Picking up a more sustainable lifestyle can be as simple as exchanging one-time-use items for reusable alternatives. Reusing household items and essentials not only contribute to sustainability, but it also saves money and reduces waste. Examples could include owning a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing loads of bottled water. I personally own a gallon water bottle with motivational quoted time stamps on it and it’s probably one of my favourite things I own. Not only can I meet my daily water intake needs, but I’m also being sustainable at the same time.

Reducing plastic waste is a pressing task because the increase of plastic waste continues to be a hazard to wildlife and further pollute the environment. As governments work towards ending the production of plastic bags and plastic straws, on an individual level you can make the choice to reduce or better yet completely eliminate your usage of plastic essentials today. Grocery shopping can be done equally as efficiently by using large reusable bags to carry your groceries instead of small plastic ones. At home, stainless steel straws are a great alternative to plastic straws and work equally as well if not even better. Another pointless commonly used item that can be easily replaced with reusable alternatives is plastic ziplock bags. Most times they are used once and then thrown away, carelessly increasing plastic waste in your community. An excellent alternative is reusable containers that can be used for many years and help reduce plastic waste.

The practice of minimalism is a lifestyle that focuses on what really matters and reduces personal belongings and essentials to the amount that is necessary. There is no reason to own more than you need, too much of something will only go to waste. Another great way of being more sustainable is reducing how much of something you own. For example, if your family consists of 5 members, in the kitchen, the bare necessity would be owning 5 forks, 5 spoons and 5 pairs of chopsticks. Another example is reducing the clothing pieces you own. Owning staple pieces that will never go out of styles, such as blue jeans, black sweatshirts, and white sneakers. This reduction of personal belongings can reduce the amount of waste you produce and allows your living space to be more spacious and the need for energy to clean/wash items will also reduce significantly. Another way to think of it is buying and owning stuff you know you will use. Evaluating items before purchasing them is also a great way to reduce how much you buy. This evaluation can be done by asking questions like: do I see myself using this a year from now, will I grow out of this piece of clothing in a short period of time, and can I use this product for multiple purposes? You will also reduce the amount of waste you produce from unused items by not even owning them in the first place.

The final R is recycling; recycling is the process of collecting and retaining waste to be converted into new and usable materials. A way to implement the practice of recycling in your everyday lifestyle is to sort your waste. This why there are many different waste bins that sort different materials of waste for recycling purposes. For example, paper should be thrown in the yellow bags, glass should be thrown in the small light grey bin, and plastics should go in the blue bin. The bin with the least amount of waste should be the dark grey garbage bin because waste thrown into that bin will not be recycled, instead, it’ll be thrown into landfills. The speed of waste piling up in landfills immensely outweighs the speed of waste decomposition. Landfills have many negative effects like releasing methane which pollutes the air, toxins and chemicals contaminating nearby waters, and is harmful to nearby ecosystems. Therefore, being sustainable also includes sorting your waste so it can be recycled further reducing the amount of waste you generate and the amount of waste in landfills.

Sustainability should be something everyone takes part in and learns to implement into everyday life. It has so many benefits on an individual level and a global level because small change is still change that’ll help our environment get one step closer to greater change at large. Working towards making our environment as waste-free as possible will only benefit our future living conditions.