Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Part 2 of ‘Going green without envy’
Guest contributor and social worker Vicky Ang is here to share her thoughts and passion on social issues.
The 3Rs are not actually foreign terms for most of us, especially city dwellers. Many big corporations jump at opportunities to have green projects to ensure a good reputation for their organisations. Private and public institutions alike have been having recycling projects for the past 20 years. ‘Recycle’ is probably more popular than her other 2 ‘R’ sisters in terms of going green projects.
What does it actually mean to reduce, reuse and recycle? Is this just another hot trend and should we actually use our brain energy to give this idea a second thought? Is this an upper class ideology, a lifestyle choice of ‘more developed’ societies or should we actually ALL join in?
As many educated folks tend to be, being convinced to change any parts of their lives requires them to be informed of the situation. Let us explore the 3Rs a little before we jump to conclusions and join the ‘Go Green’ believers or converts.
The trash that has been accumulated in our world in the recent years have been steadily increasing due to many reasons such as the increase in human population, convenient packaging, globalisation, consumerism, mass production etc. Honestly, as long as there are humans and cities, you will find mountains of trash (unless the city practises incinerating their waste).
To reduce actually means to cut down, to minimise the quantity of. But what actually are we cutting down and how do we go about doing so to make our world a better and cleaner place?
This is not actually good news for shopaholics and hoarders. To lessen the trash that we have in our world, we need to reduce the amount of things that we throw away. However, this is not to encourage hoarding. Reducing would mean buying less and only buying things that are useful or things that will definitely come in handy in our everyday routine. Objects with a purpose of being may be considered but also to a reasonable amount. The quality of the item should be considered over the quantity at all times.
An acquaintance of mine once declared, “I like buying cheap clothes. I can just simply throw them away when I do not want to use them anymore. It’s so convenient, so easy. I don’t have to care about the money (spent).” Well, I beg to differ. Having the spending power does not mean that you should stop caring about the amount of trash you would be piling up when you discard these cheap items so easily! I can’t deny that in today’s world, we often seek out the most convenient way to do things over what is actually the best way. Often enough, we might be guilty for preferring disposable plastic items over those that we may need to wash. We may silently even laugh at ‘extreme nature lovers’ who bring their cute containers and matching utensil sets to coffee shops and restaurants.
Food for thought & action: It is true that going green may not always be convenient but REDUCING our waste is of utmost importance to ensure that mother earth does not suffer even more than she already is suffering because of our spending power, urges and whims. Reducing the usage of non-biodegradable items would also be advisable to avoid our waste outliving us.
Reusing things helps us lessen the amount of trash we accumulate. It really does. We have heard of reusing green bags, oh yes, they are ‘in’ things in many famous outlets. Have you ever considered purchasing pre-loved/ second hand items? There may be some out there who are less than convinced to use things that had previous owners. We are definitely free to decide what to use and put on, anyway. Nevertheless, think of all those good items that would otherwise pile up to the trash in this world?
Or if you don’t jump with excitement over reusing used items, what about the idea of letting others reuse your items instead? We usually have so many unnecessary things that clog up our cupboards, drawers and racks. Something that is left unused could come in really handy for someone in need. Donating your hardly used items would really bring a smile to a less fortunate person. This is not advice to pass your trash to another though. If you really can’t use it anymore, it is probably heading to the rubbish bin. There are so many people out there we have-not so let us who have bridge this material gap when we can!
Food for thought & action: Pre-loved and secondhand items are usually cheaper than brand new ones. You could really enjoy a bargain while knowing that you are reusing to reduce the trash in the world! And for those who are sharing by donating, your caring is definitely helping make this world a better place by attending to the needs of those in need as well as Mother Nature who is in need of some breathing space too!
Friends and family (in Malaysia) have shared that when they try to recycle, they find it a challenge due to not knowing where to properly disposed sorted trash. We may have experienced going to the orange, blue and brown bins, spending some short time thinking where to place our trash, only to find that the people ahead of us could not care less to throw the right trash in the right bin. Frustrated much? Sigh.
Should we just give up? Or should we try to find ways to improve this system? If we all start somewhere, we will eventually get there! Education and awareness again play a vital role to improve this crucial need for change in waste management and to put recycling into real action! If we chant recycling jingles as much as we memorise our multiplication timetable, I am sure we will not need any extra second to dispose the right trash in the right bin.
Food for thought & action: Like charity, recycling should start at home! A child receives his first form of education from his parents. We should all be aware of what can be recycled, what not and where we can possibly dispose, donate or even exchange our trash (for money and coupons) to be further recycled! In addition to that, explore or support activities that use or produce recyclable items as well!
We need this positive change. Our beloved land needs us to change our ways and kick our die-hard habits to serve us, and our future generation better. So we should, and we shall.