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Sustainability | | Apr 23, 2021

The 3 Rs - Are they enough to save the Planet and our Future?

Are the 3 Rs enough for our current reality? Well… I don’t think so.

The 3 Rs Policy was created at the Earth Conference in 1992. It applied to all types of waste and was applied in this order: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

  • REDUCE, using less of what we need.
  • REUSE, increasing the life of the product. Not only by using materials of longer durability, but reusing others that were not supposed to be so. We can do it with the most varied products, for example, containers: we can use them to store food scraps, objects, etc. Besides, we can re-purpose a product, for example, we can reuse a broken mug as a plant pot. This is called upcycling which is basically giving a new purpose to the product.
  • RECYCLE whatever cannot be reduced and/or reused.

However, times have changed and nowadays just those three Rs are not enough. Bea Johnson - the pioneer of the Zero Waste movement - added two more:

  • REFUSE what we don't need: we are constantly bombarded with freebies, brochures and mail, for example, that we can refuse.
  • and ROT, compost.

However, more have emerged:

  • REPAIR whatever is repairable, because there is no need to buy something new, when we have something that still can be used.
  • RE-EDUCATE, sharing discoveries and experiences can help us and others on our journey towards a more conscientious and environmentally friendly life.
  • RESPECT nature, what surrounds us and other people - there are several social problems associated with our lifestyle; everything we do has an impact and just because we don't feel or suffer from it directly, we shouldn't close our eyes or dismiss the consequences of our actions.
  • RETHINK our choices and behaviors.

The list can go on and on, we just need to be creative and we get more Rs. However, with these nine Rs, we can draw a conclusion:

Just recycling is not enough. Taking into account the environmental, economic and social problems that we are facing these days, we must do more than that, for our well-being and for future generations well-being.

The 3 Rs - Are they enough to save the Planet and our Future? written by Joana Vieira

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