Recycling is important– it keeps materials out of landfills and saves natural resources by creating new items from old. What’s far better than recycling though are the first two R’s: Reduce and Reuse. Buy something that already exists versus something newly created from natural resources; usually oil, ore, plants, or sand are the natural resources items are made from. Thrift stores are optimal by offering used clothing, kitchenware, books, shoes, and more. Then, there are keen kitchen gadgets popping up to replace plastic wrap or aluminum foil to cover bowls and cans, washable/durable sponges, washable/reusable paper towels, and more. It’s wonderful to see what the market offers these days.
Another area many don’t think about with Reduce and Reuse is home remodeling projects. I recently added a small bathroom to my condo to entice my son to return home from college more. The Reuse challenge was super fun. Ultimately, I was able to use leftover floor tile from Modern Tile in SLC, and the sink, toilet, door, shelving, light fixture, and trim mainly from Recycle Utah’s Warehouse Thrift Store. It looks terrific and slightly eclectic. Extended dedication would have involved leftover drywall and wood, light switches, paint, and towel racks, while insulation and the shower would have been more challenging. The point is that options are available if we have time to hunt, and we can’t forget about the saved money and resources.
Between local building thrifts like Recycle Utah and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, not to mention numerous others in the Salt Lake Valley, the sky is the limit. Everything comes from a natural resource, and many are non-renewable. Let’s get savvy about how we proceed with our purchases from clothes and furniture to cars and home remodels. Can we Reduce or Reuse before we Recycle?
By Mary Closser