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Our new Zero Waste program is intended to build upon the many successes that were realized with the 3R's. The 3R's concepts are one of the foundations of Zero Waste.

Many of us know that the 3R's stand for; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. But what some of us don't know is that is that the 3R's is a hierarchy of waste reduction values.

In other words, the most important aspect of the 3R's and Zero Waste is the reduction of waste generated the second most important aspect is re-use of material and the third most important waste reduction activity is recycling.

This may seem backwards to most people, after all recycling is by far the most visible of the 3R's and gets the most attention. However important recycling is, and we consider it very important, simply reducing the amount of waste that you produce can have a far greater impact on our overall waste production. Think about it, if you don't produce it in the first place it doesn't have to be re-used, recycled or disposed of. This is why 'Beyond Recycling' is used with Zero Waste, to get us thinking beyond the Blue Box.

The reason that reduce and re-use get less attention is that it is much more difficult to quantify these activities. And while doing everything you can to recycle your waste is a behavioral change which is fairly easy to accomplish, reduce and re-use activities often are preceded by fundamental philosophical and lifestyle changes.

In our consumer oriented society the emphasis is on consuming. We extract raw materials, we process these materials into useable goods, we consume the goods and then dispose of the material. A one direction stream from extraction to disposal.

Recycling attempts to put some of the material back into the stream at the processing stage, lessening the demand for raw materials.

Reducing calls for an honest analysis of our consumptive patterns and formulating of strategies to use less stuff. This can be a difficult process to start but the potential payoffs are enormous at many levels. You feel better at the personal level, your community has less waste to worry about and your impact on ever-decreasing global resources is greatly diminished.

Where to start? How to start? Simple, at the bottom. Recycle as much as you possibly can. By doing this, you educate yourself on your personal impact on the environment and you can identify areas where you might produce less waste. Secondly, take the re-use ethos to heart. Don't buy products unless you really need them, and look for good quality used products where available. And finally, when you need something new, decide if you really need it or just want it. If you decide you really need it, look for the most environmentally friendly, lowest impact product that you can find.

By practicing Zero Waste, not only will you do your part to help save our environment, you will save yourself a lot of money in the process.

The challenge is great, but the rewards are even greater.

The following web sites are full of helpful and interesting information to help you on your way.

To calculate your impact on the environment and climate change, check out this fascinating site from the University of British Columbia:

These are just a few of many extremely informative resources on the internet. If you find others, please let us know at zerowaste@rdn.bc.ca

Last Modified:  Nov 15, 2011
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