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Expanding the “Three R’s” of Recycling

by Scott McKinnon

For years, the mantra for recycling has been the 3-R’s; Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle! These have been very good words to help describe ways for us to lower our carbon footprint on the planet.

Obviously, if we reduce what we use up in the world on a day-to-day basis, and shop for products that reduce the amount of packaging they use to get those products to us safely, then we are having an immediate impact on the wast we generate. When we can re-use an item, rather than get out a new one every time, then our consumption levels go down, saving money and the resources needed to make the new one. Finally, recycling is the best way to give a new life to something we no longer have need for. Paper and packaging are great examples of items that can get recycled into other useful things we need without having to cut down more trees.

Today, however there are other “R’s” we can consider adding to the list of recycling “R’s”.

Let’s consider “Repurpose” as a fundamental way to recycle. Taking something that was intended for one purpose and using to achieve another task is not only smart, but quite ingenious as well. Making new uses for the things you don’t need anymore can give you a great sense of fulfillment knowing you kept something out of the landfill and solved a problem you would likely have to had to spend money on. Turn an old milk jug into a bailer scoop for your boat, or how about those kitty-litter buckets into stackable storage containers for Christmas decor?

Another great idea to add to the recycling mantra is “Re-Gifting”. How many of us get gifts at Christmas or for our birthdays that we look at and say to ourselves… “I’m never going to use that”. It ends up on a shelf in the closet collecting dust, because we feel obligated to keep it because it was a gift. If you receive a gift, it is for you to decide how best to use it. If you know you will never use it, it is OK if you decide to re-gift the item to someone else who will appreciate it or enjoy it more than you. You can save money purchasing a gift for someone else and save space in the back of your closet for something more important to you, like perhaps clothing.

Speaking of clothing, many people are aware of the concept of putting their items up for “Re-sale” at a clothing consignment shop (especially if it doesn’t fit anymore, or it’s not your style anymore). Clothing is not the only thing people can consign in today’s world. Check your local listings to see what other consignment shops are in your area. You can find consignment stores that handle good quality furniture and home decor, adding the R-word “Re-Furnish” to the list. you can also consign quality sporting goods and equipment allowing you to “Re-outfit” your gear at substantial savings and get rid of the items you or your kids may have outgrown.

When considering consignment shops as a viable recycling option, consider a few of these steps to ensure it goes smoothly.

First, contact your favorite shop to learn how they operate. Ask when the best time to bring in your items is. Knowing when to bring in seasonal items will get you the fastest sale for the best price. Do they have the customers who will want what you have to sell? Shop owners and managers can give you a good idea of the items they have the most demand for at that time of year.

Consigning furniture and antiques is a little more complicated than consigning clothing. However, the basic rules remain the same. Furniture and antiques should be in the best possible condition when presented to the consigning shop. They should be clean, sturdy and preferably in perfect condition. Remember, your piece will sell for what it is worth at the time of consignment. Tightening a few bolts or touching-up with a bit of paint can really make a difference in pricing.

Furniture and sports equipment consignors should contact their shop of choice for information on acceptance procedures and hours, before lugging around large or valuable pieces. Most shops will want you to email photos of your items to determine if they will be suitable before delivering them down to the shop.
Use your best judgment when placing valuable items with another and always get the particulars in writing.

Another important piece of advice is to divulge all the information you have on the item. An informed shop owner is a beneficial selling tool. Regardless of the information being good or bad, give the shop owner all the information you have, hide nothing. Give them the manufacturer, when & where you bought it, for how much. Did you get it second hand or new, was there any smoking or pets in the house, all this information is important in order to sell the item quickly and for the best possible returns. People like buying a “story” with their items.

Recycling has been around for ever, but today there are many more options to consider. The time has come to expand the traditional definition of the “3-R’s” (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) to include these other options to further reduce the carbon footprints we leave on this lovely planet we call our home!

Expanding the Three “R’s” of Recycling