Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

Why has "refuse" been added to this progression? And why is it a relevant strategy in the context of a zero waste goal for our business?

We can all understand the concept of “reduce”. If we use less, we waste less, and it costs less. Keeping an eye on our waste stream is an excellent indicator of where we can reduce our inputs to be more efficient in our purchasing practices, and with better planning, we will generate happy consequences for our bottom line.

As consumers, we understand the concept of “refusing”. A consumer might decide, “I will not buy that product because it is tested on animals.” But we are serving customers with many attitudes about what they choose and refuse, and it is in our interest to accommodate an array of preferences. This presents us with a challenge, and also an opportunity.

As retailers (and wholesalers) how can we use our power of “refusal” to enhance our “triple bottom line”? This means benefits to our social, ecological, and economic conditions.

Consider this simple scenario: a new product is tested at the store and the response from consumers is overwhelmingly positive. Some consumers discover that it is packaged using non-recyclable plastic, and refuse to buy it. The store can:
1. Put the product on the shelf or
2. Refer the supplier to a similar package that is recyclable and request that they investigate supplying the product in the alternate packaging for future production runs.

Action #2 has the potential to impact the triple bottom line: more sales, less waste, more happy customers.

Be Informed: Research it… Promote Innovation… Engage Relevant Participants

Add your opinions, ideas, and comments to this topic at Ecotopia-U BLOG

R is for Reusable (SCRAP)

San Francisco waste diversion tops 75%


Single-Stream Recycling -- A Way to Zero Waste

Boulder, CO:

Good recycling video. Explains the process of single stream recycling once it gets to the recycling center.

Also see southern California�s EDCO Disposal descriptive video on how to separate recycling:

Compost! Part 1

A Lowe�s "How To" home video. Short and informative.

Original file location:
Notes from the Webmaster

I consider myself a fairly sophisticated Five R's ninja. But I learned a few surprising composting tips while watching the SIngle Stream Recycling video (above).

1. Don't crush your cans and bottles.

2. Ball your aluminum foil (don't flatten it), and YES it is recyclable! (In some locations.)

3. You don't have to remove the cellophane window from window envelopes.

4. DO NOT put shredded paper in your recycling bin! It befuddles the sorting process, and can muck up the system when it gets wet. COMPOST your shredded paper in your worm bin, or green collection bin.

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