Some thoughts I've had lately about these 3 little words. REDUCE: Reducing our consumption (and not just recycling after we consume) is one of the most important things we can do to make a difference. It takes self-control, but once you start to work on mastering your consumer-driven desires, it gets easier.
We've been living in the RV just over 2 weeks, and I am keenly aware of my obsession with reducing. If there is something that is not serving an immediate purpose, it's gone. Nothing is safe! :) We've done two more downsizing sessions since we moved in. The first one consisted of mostly clothes and the second of household items. It feels so good to see open space in my cupboards and to have room to move my clothes around in the closet.
I am also very aware of what is coming into the RV. Even when we lived in the apartment, if I brought some new stuff home, I could just toss it in the closet and deal with it later. Now, I have to deal with it immediately, because if I put it on the couch, where will we sit?! :) I rarely even have the desire to go to stores, or garage sales anymore...because I know that if I end up finding something I "need", I will have to come back and find a place for it. Which, when everything already has a place and there is not a lot of empty space, is a little difficult. So I am content to make do with what I already have and when a need arises, I am better able to determine if it is truly a need.
REUSE: I love Klean Kanteens. We all have our own and we use them everyday, all day. In fact, most of the time, we don't even use cups at meals...just our water bottles! Because we can just re-fill over and over without washing, it reduces the number of dishes. This is a good thing. :) I take it with me everywhere and I will fill it up at random drinking fountains and in public restrooms. When we go to somewhere to eat...for example, Subway, I take it and fill it up with their water instead of taking their disposable cup.
Bottled water is super popular among RV'ers because many people don't trust their tank water. We have a Pur water filter on the faucet and as long as we filled up our tank from a tested source...we drink it. But if you have access to safe filtered tap water at home and on the town...drink it! Well, unless you live in Iowa which probably has the most contaminated water in the nation from all of the pig farms (check out this map!). The tap water/bottled water scandals have been all over the news lately. Here are some interesting tidbits on the topic from Colin at No Impact Man.
There are many coffeeshops switching to biodegradable cups in an effort to be more earth-friendly. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite spots in Bozeman put out a recycling bin for all of their plastic cups. But even though it's a step in the right direction...it doesn't solve the problem...the waste is still there. On my last trip to the Ecopolitan in Minneapolis, I was excited to see that they were requiring the purchase of a glass jar when you bought a smoothie to-go. You had to pay $1 for the jar/cup and you could either keep it, or bring it back in for a credit. It's ideas like this that need to stick...they may seem radical to the general public, but until we start to realize how much disposable junk we use everyday, the landfills will just continue to grow.
RECYCLE: It's been a little more difficult to recycle while traveling, because I'm never sure where the next drop-off site will be. But it's working good so far. Whenever I am flattening a box or washing out a can to recycle...I am usually thinking "did I really need that in the first place?". And the answer most often is no. Again, along the lines of REDUCING before even getting to this step, I want to buy products with less packaging, boxes, plastic, etc. on them. If you must buy something in plastic, try to remember to check the recycle number BEFORE you buy it. I'm always annoyed when I get something home and realize that it's a #5 plastic, which is not recycled in a lot of areas.
I'm soooo far from perfect in all of these areas...but try hard to be mindful of my actions and how they effect others, and if I mess up...I just start fresh the next day.
What are some of your own thoughts about these 3 little words?