Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Refuse


You no doubt know about the three Rs and how significant they are. Reducing the total of products we own and the total of waste we create, suggests less things will end up in the garbage. Reusing what we can gives our products another life and helps to keep them out of the trash. Recycling takes a variety of materials and puts them to good use, helping the economy, creating jobs and producing new products. You may have the mantra of “reduce, reuse and recycle” down, but there are more Rs you can add to your routine.

Just Say Absolutely No

Refuse! Bringing a multiple-use shopping bag is a great way to cut down on how much you end up with. A big part of living a zero waste lifestyle is refusing what you do not need. What else can you refuse? Remove yourself from trash mail lists to cut down on paper.

Borrow, Don’t Buy

Be careful of the life cycle of any item you purchase or acquire. Where did it come from and where will it end up? There are lots of options for borrowing and sharing to help reduce how much things you own. Choose to reuse as much as you can.

The sharing economy is bigger than ever. Access a wide variety of products and services only when you need them. If you need books, movies or magazines, go to your neighborhood library. You can even put together your own little free library in your neighborhood. Toys and games take up lots of space and are frequently non-recyclable. Try using a resource like the toy sharing library in your area or put together a hand-me-down network. Instead of sending gifts that someone won’t use or need, provide experiential gifts that create fun memories, not waste.

Choose to Fix-it

When things become worn or stop working, they frequently end up in the trash. By fixing and maintaining the products in our homes, we can keep them functioning longer. This way, you will have other options, like donation or resale, instead of adding them to the waste stream. Bring your products to county fix-it clinics for help or use online Fix resources. You can even borrow the tools you need from neighborhood resources like the Minnesota Tool Library.


Extend the life-cycle of an item you may no longer need by selling or donating it. Networks like Nextdoor allow you to interact with other users in your neighborhood to communicate and exchange products and services. Craigslist and Facebook also have ways to sell your products and buy used products online. For safety’s sake, it’s recommended to only deal with people locally and use sanctioned exchange locations, like the swap meet.


By refusing and repairing, you make it much easier to reduce products you don’t need and reuse products you already have. Always look for more ways to reduce and keep working to create less waste and make sure your products are recycled as much as possible. Do a zero waste challenge or waste audit. Are there products you could do without? Commit to your decision to reduce, reuse, recycle, Fix, refuse, and review by sharing your story. Be proud of your achievements!