Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: 5 Ways to Reduce Consumption

The Vine Place Community Centre Green Team collects recycling and garbage in Corner Brook, NL. Photo credit: CCNL, 2020.
The Vine Place Community Centre Green Team collects recycling and garbage in Corner Brook, NL. Photo credit: CCNL, 2020.

Did you know that recycling is actually the last step in reducing your waste before throwing something away? You can protect the environment and save money by reducing your consumption and reusing what you already own. We’ve put together some tips to help you reduce, reuse and recycle in your everyday life.

1. Reduce Food Waste: In Canada, about 11 million tonnes of food is wasted every year. From individual households to food damaged in transportation, food waste is defined as food that is produced and harvested, but never eaten. Not only is this waste a big hit to our wallets, food waste also produces methane, a greenhouse gas, as it decomposes in landfills, increasing emissions and contributing to climate change. Thankfully, reducing food waste at home doesn’t have to be hard. Buying only what you need, preserving and eating your leftovers, and composting food scraps are all steps you can take to save money and reduce food waste.

2. Reduce Water Consumption: In Newfoundland and Labrador, we use about 630 liters of water per person every day. That’s 400 liters more than the Canadian average! Taking shorter showers and fixing leaky faucets or taps are some ways you can reduce your water usage at home. Check out CCNL’s Water Conservation project to learn more about conserving water, including tips for well owners and FAQs.

Regional Supervisor Ben Piercy holds a gear bag made from repurposed bed sheets. Photo credit: CCNL, 2020.

3. Repair and Reuse Clothing: Have you heard of fast fashion? Fast fashion is a term used to describe the fast-paced consumerism of today’s fashion industry, which urges people to buy cheaper clothes more often to keep pace with the latest trends. Unsurprisingly, the production and disposal of massive amounts of cheap textiles has a huge impact on the environment. There are a few ways to reduce your clothing consumption. First, take care of the clothing you already own. Wash your clothes in cold water and hang dry your more delicate pieces to make them last longer. You can also buy a small sewing kit to repair rips and tears yourself. Second, reduce your clothing purchases, or try to purchase clothing that is built to last. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with the latest trends. You can also check out your local thrift stores to purchase previously owned clothing.

4. Recycle Old Tech: Properly disposing of old electronics, or “e-waste,” keeps toxins out of landfills and allows us to reuse valuable parts. Newfoundland residents can visit these e-waste drop off locations to recycle electronics.

5. Conserve Energy: There are plenty of easy ways to cut down your energy consumption (and bills!). If you own a home, you can inquire about a free home energy audit, or try replacing your manual thermostats with programmable ones that automatically turn down the heat when you’re not home. For renters, winterizing your windows with removable plastic sheets (called window insulator kits) is an easy and cheap way to lower your heat bill. With so many electronics in our homes, turning off electronics and unplugging chargers is as important as hitting the light switch when you leave a room.

There are plenty of creative ways to reduce your emissions and these suggestions are only a start! Being mindful of consumption in your life, from the gas in your car to the food in your fridge, is the first step in making conservation a priority.

Learn more about CCNL’s conservation projects and programs here.

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