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The 5 R’s of sustainability and zero-waste management

The 5 R’s:Refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce and reuse; or transform the rest.” – Bea Johnson.

Bea Johnson is the author of Zero Waste Home, a book launched in 2013 telling the story of Johnson and her family and how they switched from a hyper-consumerism lifestyle to a minimalist and sustainable one. The book achieved great success and became a movement itself.

Nowadays there is a growing number of Zero waste activists such as Lauren Singer and Kathryn Kellogg. But, what does de Zero Waste movement imply?

The 5 R’s in zero waste management

The 5 R’s provide a new scheme for dealing with waste in our lives by helping us focus on our habits and consumption patterns.

1. Refuse: refuse what you don’t need

The first step to a zero-waste lifestyle is to prevent the waste from entering your home in the first place. This involves saying “no” to promotional samples, junk mail, single-use disposables such as bags, straws, cups, and cutlery, or any short-lived form of unnecessary items.

2. Reduce what you do need

Reducing what you do need implies getting clear about what you need and being mindful about your purchasing decisions. It means to let go of household items that are no longer of use and avoid impulse purchases such as buy 1-get-2 offers, discount products, and processed foods among others.

Reducing not only results in saving more money from expending less but also saving time and becoming more efficient by alleviating physical and mental clutter.

3. Reuse, extend the useful life of the product

Reusing involves repairing instead of throwing and replacing products and switching single-use items by permanent alternatives. This includes replacing plastic bottles with stainless steel water bottles, for instance, using fabric bags, bamboo toothbrushes, or buying unpackaged foods among other solutions. Also buying second-hand and visiting antique stores.

4. Recycle what you cannon refuse, reduce or reuse

Recycling comes as the last option after refusing, reduce and reusing. The reason is, nowadays, we consume and dispose at a higher path than we are capable of recycling. As a result, many recyclable materials end up in landfills, shipped to developing countries, or in WTE incineration plants as they couldn’t be recycled.

5. Rot what is left

Rot or transform what is left. This applies mainly to organic waste coming from food. As a consumer, there are some methods to compost your household waste such as the Bokashi method, garden compost, or vermicomposting. On the other hand, WTE systems like REVALUO, transform municipal organic waste into fuel.

Indeed, successful waste recycling is not about using many items and recycling them all. Instead, it’s about making conscious purchases… At LandfillSolutions, we contribute to recycling, transforming, and recovering value from MSW. Also, we give waste a second life. In all, we participate in the circular economy and help meet the global zero emissions targets.

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