Conscious Consumerism: The Other Three R’s

Most of us learn the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” bit when we’re young. Well at least when I grew up it was a large focus. I think that is why I do so well with those three R’s, I have been hearing them since the first grade. Thrifting or passing down your clothing and household items is a great way to Reuse and Recycle (check out my Conscious Consumerism article on thrifting). There’s no such thing as a perfect environmentalist and everyone has things we can be doing better! Of course these first three R’s are an excellent start, but it doesn’t cover everything when it comes to how we can help the environment. 

The other “three R’s” are refuse, repair, and rethink/re-purpose. These are often left out of the conversation due to humans ever growing over consumption rate. Reduce makes an excellent starting place for this large issue. Number 1 thing to do is stop buying as many things, try buying more bulk items (see our Refill Station), live more minimally , reduce the amount of stuff you have and lastly, going vegan is one of the best ways I have found to reduce my waste (See the environmental effects of different milk options here).

Refuse is one I find compelling. All those flyers you get in the mail, the free item at superstore that might end up in the trash next week, receipts you will never look at again, the single use plastic that is constantly thrown at us, the one hundredth toothbrush you get from the dentist. All these things can be avoided with a simple “No thank you”. Not only will this reduce the amount of unnecessary, miscellaneous things you have in your life, it will also keep those things out of the landfills. Other things to refuse in your life is products from companies that don’t have the same standards as what you expect they might. Whether it’s unfair wages, unsafe working conditions, lack of environmental responsibility… anything that is important to you should be important to the companies you support. Next time someone offers you something, think before you accept it… do I really need or want this item in my life and is it coming from a place that I support. 

Repair is one I still need to work on. Despite my extreme lack of sewing skills I try my best to repair clothing or items I have worn down; I often ask friends and family to help me do so. Repairing things instead of throwing them away when they get damaged greatly reduces your waste and allows you to keep loving items you aren’t ready to get rid of! I also find this goes outside the realm of repairing. I mean that you don’t always have to replace something if it’s slightly broken. Make use of things that aren’t perfect and try not to replace items that still work. Like buying a new iPhone every time a new one comes out or getting another new pair of sunglasses that are only slightly different than the other 10 pairs you own (I’m guilty of this), we don’t always need new shiny and bright items… a little wear and tear never hurt anyone.

Rethink/re-purpose is one of my favourites and I am continuously trying to find new ways to use my old things! Take the desk my grandpa built my dad almost 40 years ago, my dad and I are refurbishing the entire thing to make it brand new for me to use while studying for University! A re-purposing trend I’ve seen as of late is using old kitchen ware as plant pots! Rethinking your old stuff can be really fun and lets you be creative with the things you already own … plus you can save money! Another way to rethink is simply take a look at your life: what you’re buying, what you’re eating, your waste… collect all of these thoughts and think of new ways you can be better. Becoming more self aware of how you are contributing to the issue and in what ways you can help is a great start to tackling the challenge of becoming less wasteful and more environmentally friendly!

I hope this reminded you of a few more ways you can help be kinder to this planet we call Earth! Sharing the knowledge you have with others will only improve your overall community… so, share your thoughts below or on our Instagram page, we’d love to hear all the ways you are putting the other three r’s to use. 

Written by: Holly Simpson

Recycling Explained – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

In my last article titled “Where Do I Put My Garbage?”  I spoke about the confusion that many folks can have understanding the difference between compostable, biodegradable and of course recycling.  As promised, let’s first start off with a look at recycling.

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I’m sure the majority of us have heard of these three ‘R’ words: reduce your consumption, reuse what you can, and recycle what’s left. They’re good words to live by.

In the past few decades, recycling has increased dramatically. Beside almost every garbage can, there is a matching blue bin. It is expected that plastic, glass, and paper are thrown into the latter, and those who don’t do this are often given disapproving looks. I personally find it extremely irritating to see stacks of paper or recyclable plastic in the garbage, and am quick to correct this error.

But, as most things are, it’s not that simple. Although ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is a memorable catchphrase, it fails to mention how the way we recycle is changing, especially here in Winnipeg.

In April 2018, CBC published a series called “Reduce, Reuse, Rethink”, revealing common misconceptions about recycling.

You can read the full article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-manitoba-recycling-rules-1.4625533

Basically, what can and can’t be recycled in Winnipeg has changed now that China, the largest market for Canadian recyclables, has changed many of their regulations. For example, dark coloured plastics, like a Tim Hortons coffee cup lid, cannot be recycled in Winnipeg.

Some other quick tips for your recycling include:

  • Clean your containers.The cleaner your recycling is, the easier it is to process and the less energy is required to wash it. It will also have a better chance of being reused.

  • Don’t use plastic bags. If you throw out your recycling in a plastic bag, it will most likely end up in a landfill.

  • Styrofoam is not recyclable in Winnipeg, even though has the little triangle symbol on it.

A more extensive list can be found on the City of Winnipeg website: http://www.winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/recycle/4rdepots/acceptedMaterial.stm

I know it seems like a lot, and possibly overwhelming, but becoming aware of the regulations in our city is so important. It’s easy to ignore the little details, throw containers in a blue bin and call it a day, but in reality, our city and our planet are suffering for it. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the few who are fighting this wasteful consumerism. This awareness will help us be more conscientious consumers, and it’s definitely worth the effort.

Next article: Compostable vs Biodegradable

Series written by Chantal Delaquis