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The 3 R's of green living: Reuse, reduce, recycle

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You have probably heard of, and hopefully mastered, the three "R's" of academics - reading, writing and (a)rithmetic. There's another trio of "R's" that you might not have heard of: The three "R's" of green living.

Over the past decades, fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions have become a real threat to the environment. As global citizens sharing a planet with limited resources, each of us has the responsibility to care for the environment and keep it as balanced as possible.

Reducing, reusing and recycling are three simple ways that each of us can decrease our carbon footprint and help maintain a healthy environment.

Reuse: Think twice before throwing something out and buying a new one. Are you sure there's no way to reuse what you have? Try to get a longer life out of your appliance by repairing it instead of buying a new one. Instead of getting the newest technological device as soon as it comes out, consider waiting until your current one starts to malfunction.

Wash and reuse plastic bags, disposable utensils and other kitchen items. Keep old containers and use them for household organizations. Try to use personal items as long as they last. Reusing all items as much as possible reduces waste and therefore saves the energy that would otherwise be consumed in the process of recycling excess waste.

Reduce: Consume less. Buy less. Use less. Avoid using things you don't really need or using them more often than you need to. Think about waiting until the dishwasher and washing machines are full before doing a load. Take shorter showers. Find alternative means of transportation to reduce fuel consumption.

Turn off appliances, lights, technological devices, and anything else that takes electricity when you aren't actively using them. Reducing consumption is one of the most natural ways to protect the environment and preserve resources. It requires more planning and might be a little less convenient that consuming resources indiscriminately, but it's a small price to pay for maintaining a balanced environment.

Recycle: When you can't reuse something, see if you can recycle it. You might not be able to wear stained or worn out clothes, but you could recycle them as rags or use them for different craft projects.

You can often even recycle parts of furniture by transforming them into something else. An old crib, for example, could often be easily turned into a desk or window seat. Old dishwasher racks can be placed in cabinets as sliding shelves. Get creative, and try to come up with ways to recycle used things.

Recycling items yourself saves the most energy, but if you can't come up with any way to recycle an item, send it to a recycling organization rather than disposing of it through the regular waste system. Most neighborhoods have one or more recycling systems available for common materials like glass, plastic and paper.

Keep these three "R's" in mind whenever you intend to dispose of something or buy something new. You won't be able to completely avoid consuming energy or using waste, but cutting back in little ways makes a difference. Try reducing, reusing and recycling to help curtail excess waste and consumption on a daily basis.

Don't underestimate the significance of your participation in preserving the environment. The current environmental threats can only be alleviated if each individual takes personal responsibility to live in a more sustainable manner.

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