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Living Green: The Missing Manual by Nancy Conner

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Chapter 3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Your great-grandparents lived by the saying, “Waste not, want not,” which means that if we don’t squander what we have, we won’t lack for it later. That’s a far cry from today’s throwaway mentality, isn’t it? Whether it’s clothes, a cellphone, or a DVD player, many people find it easier to replace something that’s old, worn, or broken than to fix it. The amount of trash people in developed countries produce is staggering, as you’ll see in this chapter. And it piles up fast—just how fast might surprise you. What happens to all that junk? And how can we scale back the literal mountains of trash that go into landfills?

Everyone has to do their part. You’re no doubt familiar with the phrase, "reduce, reuse, recycle,” which is an updated, eco-conscious version of the “waste not, want not” philosophy. By now, most people have heard these three Rs so much that they seem obvious—of course we should be doing all those things to ease the toll we take on the planet. But it’s worth pondering whether you actually follow all three Rs as much as you could.

This chapter shows why wasteful living is a bad idea and teaches you tips to help minimize it. By taking a close look at each of the three Rs—how you currently implement them and how you might fine-tune your current practices—you’ll minimize waste, conserve precious resources, and save energy that would otherwise be used to create and transport new goods. And you’ll feel smug knowing you’re doing your part for ...

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