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Most businesses and individuals today are participating in some form of recycling due to a heightened awareness of what and how items could be recycled.  Similarly, reusing has been gaining momentum as evident by the success of such vehicles as eBay, Amazon and craigslist.  In the past, used items would have been discarded in landfills, but now individuals and businesses are taking advantage of purchasing slightly used to used merchandise at drastically lower prices than if bought new.

The most sustainable of the three R’s is to reduce, but this portion of the triad has not received similar focus to date.  Although recycling and reusing provides significant benefits to using virgin materials, the optimal way to make an impact is to limit the amount of resources used in the first place.

The following list shares some quick tips on how one can begin practicing the reduce philosophy in their personal lives:

  • Install water-efficient plumbing fixtures.  After all, toilets account for more than 30% of indoor water use for residences while faucets account for more than 15%.
  • Stop irrigating lawns and watering outdoor landscaping.  Rely on xeriscape landscaping, or “dry landscaping” techniques.
  • Institute rain harvesting systems such as rain barrels and cisterns.
  • Choose energy-efficient electronics and appliances.
  • Replace incandescent and power intensive lights with more efficient options like high-efficiency compact fluorescents, or better yet, LED’s.
  • Waste less energy with HVAC systems by installing smart thermostats and raising set point temperatures in the summer and lowering them in the winter.  Each degree difference, whether heating or cooling, accounts for approximately a 3% savings of electricity usage.
  • Identify alternate means of transportation including carpooling, biking, walking or using mass transit.
  • Buy local by purchasing items made close to home.  Not only will this support the local economy, but less energy will be used to transport the goods to the store.
  • Avoid goods made with materials whose extraction or processing are especially destructive to the environment such as tropical woods and most precious metals.
  • Avoid overly packaged goods.  Most packaging is solely for marketing purposes and will get thrown-away immediately following its purchase.

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