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Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

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Three Rs to live by. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. That’s what we have been told makes us eco-friendly and to save the environment. They are indeed the best shot to bring circular economy in action and reduce our waste production.

The world is in chaotic chariot driving towards destruction and mankind holds the reins. We are simply producing more waste every day while depleting and deteriorating the natural resources. Our planet is running out of space and we don’t even have any other planet to move to. Well, not yet.

Life was not always like this. The ‘throwaway living’ lifestyle that we lead today started in the 1950s. With the abundance of resources and demand for ‘easy’ products, the production of waste increased significantly and not yet has died down. What we fail to realize is that our ‘normal’ way of living is highly unsustainable.

To curb the madness, environmental conservation slowly began to be acknowledged. On 22nd April of 1970, first Earth Day was celebrated in order to bring the environmental issues in the light and create awareness among masses. That’s when the three R’s were introduced for a sustainable living.

The need to reduce, reuse and recycle items is still pressed on. Drinking from reusable plastic bottles, buying fewer clothes, sorting out the trash, avoiding single-use plastics, drying clothes in the sun, saving electricity are some of the things that can easily be adopted in the day to day life.

Not only on household levels, the policy is beneficial for industries as well. The implementation of sustainable practices in businesses not only reduce planet’s energy consumption but is also cost-effective for them. The consumers also prefer eco-friendly firms as the production-based industries pollute the nature and have disastrous impacts on human health.

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But not all the R’s are that perfect as they seem to be.

Reuse

Reusing items seems like a perfect way because obviously, they are not going to the bin directly. But focusing on a different angle, it could do more damage than you can imagine. For example, reusing plastic items for a long time is not that good of an idea because the plastic slowly breaks into microplastics and release toxic chemicals which can cause severe health problems once inside the body.

Take an old car. Old cars are likely to pollute more. While you’re saving the world from extra trash, your old car is polluting more and most likely to consume extra fuel and require high maintenance. Getting a new car is a more viable option in that case.

So reuse may be a good strategy in some areas but not for all. It can be considered for the case to case basis.

Recycle

Recycling paints a really beautiful picture when it comes to resource management. Bringing the materials again into use through high-level processing do sounds eco-friendly. But on the ground level, the statistics tell a different story.

Recycling is expensive. Many business models do not consider recycling as it’s not always cost-effective. Recycling plastic, food waste, and glass is more expensive than recycling paper and metal. 25% of the waste still ends up in landfills. The rich countries do not even bother to recycle their plastic, they ship it to developing countries where they hardly get recycled and pollute their ecosystems.

The recycled material is often less lustrous and efficient than the new material. The high price of recycled material is also one of the causes that avert people to use them. That has caused several recycling companies to shut down for good.

Hope Lies in ‘Reduce’

Using less is a feasible and direct way to reduce waste. It’s simple. We live in a world which is obsessed with things. We hold dear to our possessions too much regardless of their need. Consider garments for a common example. How many garments we have in our closet that hardly see any light of the day? And still, we crave for more.

One third of the food produced in the world goes to bin every single day. Food is thrown away in huge amounts in cities while many starve everday.

Speaking of relatable, how many apps you have stored in your phone that you never use. They just add up to energy consumption. How many smartphones do you need to communicate?

The world we live in is driven by ‘manufacture demand’. It creates an illusion in your mind that you need stuff when in reality, you don’t. The bare necessities have increased in the material world. The demand for more is growing steadily. The trash is already piling up high at our home.

The solution? Reduce! You don’t need three cars, four smartphones, 5o pairs of shoes and a new garment every week. Don’t let yourself become a possession of your possessions.

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