Conservation Conversation: The Rs Have It

By Vanessa Moberg (& Oliver Berger) –

Ah, plagiarism. I love it. I’m kidding, of course. (I also love irony.)

My colleague Oliver has been working on a fun new Waste Wise brochure for our organization, and as a result, he and his roommates have been playing around with “The Three Rs”. You might have heard a fourth or fifth R being bounced around, but we decided we want more!

So, while this brochure is still in draft stages, I’ve decided to reproduce some of Oliver’s work. (He’s currently rafting the Fraser River with the Sustainable Living Leadership Program. I have no way to obtain his permission. Enter magnificent plagiarism!)

Reduce. It’s the first of the original three Rs, and in our opinion it’s at the heart of conservation. The very best thing you can do for Mother Earth is to not consume something in the first place. Stop waste before it even starts.
Reduce your consumerism.
Reduce the amount of garbage you create.
Reduce your impact on the planet by using self-propelled transportation and recreation vehicles like bikes, kayaks, and skis.
Reduce your food waste through judicious grocery shopping, saving leftovers, and, of course, composting.

Reuse. For the creative types, there seems to be an unlimited number of ways to reuse things. (For the rest of us, there’s Pinterest.) Here are some of Oliver’s ideas for incorporating “reuse” into your life:
Reuse wood from a demo to build your next birdhouse.
Reuse old clothing as rags.
Reuse “single-use” plastic containers for your leftovers or use them to store and organize items in your home.
Reuse someone else’s words. (Sorry, Oliver!)

Recycle. This is the one you hear us talking about all the time, mostly because the many different categories can make it seem complicated and confusing. We’re always here to answer questions, though, and so is the RCBC Recycling Hotline at 1-800-667-4321.
Recycle everything you can – and you can now recycle a lot – including most types of packaging, electronic goods, light bulbs, even Brita filters, if you send them back to the company. Make it a family challenge to get to the smallest bag of garbage possible, with the rest going to recycling. Organization is key! Having a recycling station in your shed or garage with designated bins for each category of recycling definitely helps. And now the exciting part… some new Rs!

Refuse
Refuse to spend your money on things you don’t need.
Refuse to support companies that sell non-earth-friendly products.
Refuse to buy brand new products.
Refuse to buy packaging that is not recyclable.
Refuse the plastic straw.
Refuse to-go packing that is Styrofoam.

Repair
Repair before buying new.
Repair appliances locally instead of purchasing new from abroad.
Repair your favourite clothing by learning how to sew.
Repair your shoes—we have many experts in town who can help.

Refurbish
Refurbish a sofa with new material.
Refurbish that old chair into a beautiful plant potter.

Repaint (bonus R) that lovely dresser of yours and bring it back to life. Spice it up with some retro knobs from the Share Shed.

Review
Review products before purchasing.
Review the material of your packaging before buying the product.
Review what you buy to see where you can change your habits bit by bit.
Review products before purchasing them the same way you review the ingredients in your food.

Repurpose
Repurpose that old milk jug into a scoop for your cat litter.
Repurpose those cardboard boxes into storage containers.
Repurpose a lanyard into an herb drying string. (Good one, Oliver!)
Repurpose a single sock into a wine bottle holder.
Renew an old t-shirt into a new headband.

Regift
Regift; it’s not that bad.
Regift those candles that you don’t really want.
Regift a gift basket to a friend in need.
Regift clothing you have outgrown and donate the items so the gift of giving continues.

Rethink
Rethink how you package your groceries.
Rethink products that you don’t believe in.
Rethink your buying habits and spending priorities.
Rethink the possibilities!

Recover
Recover your chip bags into a bio-fuel at your local depot.
Recover that plastic bag in your recycling bin to use again.

Remember
Remember your reusable coffee mug in the morning.
Remember your containers when you go out to eat for leftovers.
Remember all these awesome new Rs!

Rejoice
Rejoice at the amazing job you are doing.
Rejoice because reducing your impact makes a difference.
Rejoice because no one likes a whiner.
Rejoice that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have great things.

Repeat
Repeat

Oliver Berger is the Chief Green Officer at the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society and Vanessa Moberg is the Coordinator. Vanessa writes all the pay cheques. Oliver will forgive her.

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