You've heard of the three R's — Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. These three actions create a loop for managing resources and preventing waste. You may be most familiar with the third action, recycling, as a means to do your part for the environment, but that is only part of the equation.
Preventing garbage in the first place is a good way to reduce energy demands and conserve valuable resources. The energy to gather raw materials and process them into feedstock for manufacturing is costly and labor-intensive. By reducing and reusing the demand for energy needed to recycle and recreate new products is conserved because the need to create the product in the first place is eliminated. This also reduces the demand for the raw or virgin materials needed to produce goods. Reduction and reuse are effective strategies to keep valuable resources out of landfills and to save energy.
Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality relies on local governments to implement waste prevention programs. As we all work to divert more waste from landfills, you can track Oregonians’ progress through DEQ’s annual Waste Generation Reports.
In 2009, DEQ reports that Oregonians generated 6.4 pounds of waste per capita — each day! Nearly 45% of this waste was recycled (recovered) statewide!
Resources for Waste Reduction, Prevention and Recycling:
- Spring Clean-up Tips — How to properly dispose of unwanted materials
- Illegal Dumping — How to report illegal dumping activity and where to take unwanted items
- The Story of Stuff — a 20-minute video on production and consumption patterns.
- Fix it-Don't Nix it — a 20-minute audio file about reuse/repair for today's material economy.