The 4 R’s of Green

RethinkToday the economy is causing many people to be concerned about how they are going to make ends meet. Following some simple “green” principals can help keep money in your pocket while reducing your carbon footprint. We just need to change our bad habits and how we live. The complete act of recycling utilizes “reusing” materials again for the same purpose or “rethinking” to “remake” the product for a new use. Recycling is at the end of the phrase because that is the last thing you want to do with any material.

Remake, reuse, recycle is a simple mantra that can be easily remembered. Recycling decreases the utilization of new materials and creates jobs in this big industry. Recycling curtails the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. Recycling also reduces the need to cut down forests to build new products. Rethinking the purpose of an item can lead to reduce and reuse. Recycling can increase efficiency and reduce waste geometrically!

When you are done with an item what do you do with it? Take a moment and “rethink” about possible alternatives for the product. Your favorite Sister is getting ready to pitch a pair of faded jeans you had always admired. Your sister passes the jeans on to you somewhat like the Traveling Pants in the current movie. Unfortunately, the jeans do not fit you as they fit on your sister so you can’t “reuse” them. Your neighbor says she will take them. She “rethinks” about what to do with the nicely faded jeans and how to “remake” them into something she can use. The crafty neighbor transforms the jeans into a trendy, hip purse. The purse has extended the life of the jeans through a different use.

We could only hope that the neighbors’ trendy blue jean purse becomes all the rage, with everyone wanting a “remade” jean purse. People start gathering unwanted jeans to order their designer jean purses that your neighbor sells. This keeps many unwanted blue jeans from ending up in the landfill. Your neighbor becomes independently wealthy by “rethinking” a new use for your old, torn jeans. And the neighbor lived happily ever after.

Realistically, the jean purse is used for several months and then is donated to a non-profit organization to be used again. You saved money not having to buy another pair of faded jeans; your neighbor then saved money from not having to purchase a purse and then again saved money on her taxes from the donation made to a non-profit organization.

The new owner of the jean purse is a devout recycler. After using the jean purse, she recycled it. The jean purse was recycled into insulation. The original pair of jeans had many uses and was kept out of the landfill.

Most items in our modern society are recyclable. Metal, plastics, glass, paper, wood, and many electronics are recyclable. Some items need to be disposed of properly due to the hazardous material they contain such as computers and cell phones. Do not forget about donating to local efforts like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Purple Heart. You can donate building supplies and working appliances to Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Inquire about internet sites such as and where you can either give items away free or sell them. Many of the items that are recyclable could put some extra cash in your pocket, like having a yard sale or taking your aluminum, copper, or brass to sell to a metal recycler.

Another way of recycling is vermicomposting with your vegetable kitchen scraps and paper. Yard composting can utilize leaves, grass, garden wastes and cardboard. To find recycling centers in your area go to

According to “for every 1 ton of plastic that is recycled we save… equivalent of 2 people’s energy use for 1 year, the amount of water used by 1 person in 2 months time, and almost 2000 pounds of oil.”

As a nation, we need to be conscious of the effects of our actions. Recycling is good for our economy: it creates jobs and creates a demand for recycled materials. Recycling saves energy and helps use fewer natural resources. Recycling also reduces deforestation and water pollution.   Recycling helps prevent climate changes. Recycling makes a difference.

Remember to, “Rethink,  Remake, Reuse, Recycle.

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