Reduce Recycle & Reuse

Over the course of the last decade, environmentalism has become a growing concern in the lives of everyday people. Along with that, terms like "reduce, reuse, recycle" have become a recognizable part of our daily vocabulary. Luckily, now almost everyone identifies recycling as a significant value and priority. But what does the phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle" really mean?


The EPA'S RESOURCE gives some helpful explanations. "Reduce" refers to the need to do more with less. For instance, you might come to the conclusion that your family can actually function with only one car and use public transportation the rest of the time. Or you might skip a generation or two before updating your smartphone, recognizing that the model between will ultimately become one more piece of ewaste in a landfill somewhere. By making strategic choices, you can reduce what you personally consume and therefore decrease your load on the environment.


"Reuse" allows us to rely on the same products or tools multiple times rather then disposing of them when we're done. Why is it necessary for us to buy our food, beverages, and consumer products in disposable packages? Why do we so often use paper plates and plastic forks? Instead, we can get just as much done with reusable solutions. In most cases, effective reusing requires you to plan ahead. You might use a glass milk jug and get organic dairy products directly from a farmer, avoiding unnecessary waste and also enjoying high-quality food in the process. Instead of buying bottled water for work, you might find yourself a reusable water bottle and fill it yourself every day from a home filter!


Of course, "recycle" is a much more familiar term, but do we really know what this word means, either? Even for products that cannot be reused, recycling reprocesses them into a form that is reusable. Every year, recycling keeps millions of tons of unneeded waste out of landfills.
In general, recycling gets all the attention. Most people think of recycling alone when they consider their responsibility to the environment. However, reducing and reusing are just as critical for making a difference on the environment. There is a great temptation to think that we can preserve our current lifestyles unchanged while "recycling" invisibly becomes someone else's responsibility. True change, however, requires a complete transformation of the entire consumption cycle from beginning to end.
Nowhere do these dynamics become more clear then when it comes to printing and ink cartridges. Every year, 75,000 tons of electronic waste arrive at landfills from thrown away ink cartridges alone! Unfortunately, this waste is some of the most toxic and damaging to the environment. In order to change that reality, however, all three types of action—reduce, reuse and recycle—are necessary. First, we can reduce the number of ink cartridges needed by printing less, printing in draft mode, or finding electronic alternatives that avoid printing altogether. We can reuse ink cartridges by buying only refilled or remanufactured cartridges rather than newly made ones. And finally, we should always do our part by recycling empty cartridges by returning them to the manufacturers. It is becoming increasingly easy to recycle ink cartridges, and now it even works to your advantage by saving you money!
Making a difference for the environment does require us to change the entire way that we consume goods--reducing, reusing, and recycling. Becoming environmentally conscious in how we deal with ink cartridges is just one more way to do that. The great thing about doing your part, however, is that not only does it help the environment, but it ultimately helps you.