With the environment becoming an increasingly important issue in our lives, the 6 rs of sustainability provide an excellent foundation for effortlessly achieving a more sustainable lifestyle and all of its benefits. Rethinking, refusing, reducing, reusing, repairing, and recycling are the six Rs of sustainability. Not surprisingly, they have been widely adopted as part of the widely accepted and down-to-earth Do It Smart, Live It Longer philosophy. Since the R’s are such good tools, you might be wondering what they all mean. Here are some definitions:
Rethinking: This is not just applying an analytical approach to problem solving (which is important). Instead it involves taking a step back to evaluate whatever you are doing and doing it differently. In most cases it means thinking things through more thoroughly.
Refusing: Refusing to take action means that you don’t do something or plan to do something until you give it a lot of thought first. It also involves being selective in what you do. The idea is to be choosy and prioritize, so you only do things that are truly important.
Reducing: This has a simple meaning; it means to use less of something. The R in this case is for Reduce, not for Reuse which is covered below. If reducing doesn’t work for you, then look for less instead. It’s probably easier to remember just plain old reduce though. I’m sure most of us take the reduce approach when eating out at McDonald’s or going shopping at Wal-Mart but it’s still good to be reminded that we should consider reducing when eating out even at fancy restaurants or buying groceries at Whole Foods.
Reusing: Reusing is the most obvious of the 6 R’s with a lot of common sense. If you don’t already collect your plastic bags, buy your paper and cardboard at a store that donates its excess to a charity and have your detergent in containers that wash and reuse, then you’re probably not as green as you might think.
Repair: Repairing something can mean more than fixing an item. It can also mean creating something new out of raw materials from recycled or recoverable materials. There are many ways to repair things, including repairing things, repairing relationships, repairing buildings, etc.
Recycling: This is the most well-known of the 6 R’s, and for good reason. Recycling is a great way to reduce waste. It also has the most impact. While rethinking, refusing, and reducing can be good in their own right, only recycling really counts in terms of reducing pollution and conserving our natural resources. If you think about it there’s no point to reducing clutter if you’re just going to buy more stuff again. The same goes for refusing things that you don’t need or fixing things that aren’t broken instead of replacing them with a new item.
Why is it important?
The use of the 6 Rs is important because it urges consumers and producers alike to think about their habits and consider whether they need to make any changes. For consumers, the R’s can be a very good reminder to look at what you are buying and why you are buying it. You might find that you have been throwing money away on things that aren’t really important after all. This can be a big help in achieving some of the benefits of a more sustainable lifestyle.
The R’s are also important for producers. Everyone in the production chain, from farm to manufacturer to retailer is responsible for limiting waste and maximizing efficiency. By keeping this in mind, manufacturers will use their resources more wisely and consumers will buy less unnecessary junk that isn’t made with the environment in mind. When this happens, everyone wins!
The six R’s are important to everyone who is concerned with the environment, sustainability and environmental concerns. If you are trying to achieve a green lifestyle, this is one of the easiest ways to start making steps towards it. It’s simple, but it also has a lot of power.
Remember that all of the R’s are important and there’s no hierarchy involved here. You should try to use all of them whenever possible. More than this though, you should consider whether your habits comply with all six Rs on a daily basis and make changes if they don’t.