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Engage in the spirituality of sustainability. Sign up now and participate in a daily action and reflection challenge throughout the month of October. Read, act, and contemplate on your own, or attend events and reflect with friends and other campus community members. 

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Day 30: Recycle-->Reuse-->Reduce

A 3-minute video about Bea Johnson and her Zero Waste Family, an extreme example of a family who de-cluttered their lifestyle and focused on reducing and reusing as much as they can.

"Zero Waste - How green can you go?" is a short article about the family, published this year in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 4 R's of Conservation are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect, in that order. It's always good to recycle our waste, but even better to prevent creating that waste in the first place. That's why a reusable water bottle is favored over a plastic water bottle. Though the plastic bottle may be recycled, it's still a single-use item. By using a reusable bottle, we are moving up the chain of Conservation, and using less resources in our daily lives.

Hopefully you have been saving your unwanted mail since Day 3: Discover your thneeds. Rather than continue to immediately recycle these items, we are going to move up the chain of conservation and reduce them.

Catalog Choice is a great (free) tool to stop unwanted mail. Enter information about each piece of junk mail you've collected into the online interface, and wait. Catalog Choice contacts the companies on your behalf. You can track the progress of your opt-outs, and will notice a dramatic decrease in junk mail within a few weeks. The City of San Jose recently partnered with Catalog Choice as a solution for San Jose residents.

There are a number of other ways to reduce clutter and paper waste in our lives. Earth911's "Paper Cuts: 6 Easy Ways to Opt Out of the Paper Avalanche" offers some great examples of ideas to reduce and eliminate paper use.

How do you currently Reduce or Reuse? Are there other areas in your life where you could move up the chain of conservation (from recycling --> reusing, or from reusing --> reducing)? Could you take it further, as Bea Johnson has, and move from reduce --> refuse?

Contributed by Lindsey Kalkbrenner (Center for Sustainability)

Comments Comments

Janice Demonsi said on Oct 30, 2013
I wish I had the guts to go totally zero waste. Carry glass containers to the market sounds wonderful but takes a lot of discpline and organization. When I fly I do bring a water bottle and fill it as soon as I enter the airport, and I carry reusable shopping bags in the car. But could I go zero waste....we do have only one bag of trash with two adults and one child - I think that is a success the trash bag is only 12 gallons.
Asti said on Oct 31, 2013
1. I have refused using plastic disposable cups, bottles, cutlery, paper plates, zip locks and foils. 2. I don't mind spending 15 minutes every day to hand-wash my dishes and cups that I feel proud to reuse later. 3. Dishwasher is my party-only friend, as I find the 15 minutes of my daily dishes time as worth the water and power I save. 4. I consciously and constantly regard the huge potential for reducing paper towel/tissue usage - cotton is softer and super u bet! 5. I spread the word to my friends: Litter not, fill your house with sanity and sensibility so there is lesser relevance of vacuum and vacuum cleaners. Sweep for health and heaven. Lastly, I wish we could produce and sell more of organic reusable earthen pots for our homes and restaurants and reused paper mashe packaging for all our food on go.
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