This post is part of KQED’s Do Now U project. Do Now U is a biweekly activity for students and the public to engage and respond to current issues using social media. Do Now U aims to build civic engagement and digital literacy for learners of all ages. This post was written by the following students from Bridget Trogden’s “Fall 2016 Honors Program Seminar” class at Mercer University: Trent Bateman, Anna Dillon, Erica  Duncan, Timothy  Hood, Jessica  Lee, Jessica Lewis, Faith McColl, Winter Overby, Molly Parrish, Emily Robertson, Moriah Roycroft, Nidhi Shashidhara, Bryan Shin, Lindsey Smallwood, David Stokes III, Shannon Tho, Mason Thornton and Katelyn West.


Featured Media Resource
VIDEO: KQED

Where Does Your Recycling Go?
This video follows the path of recyclable goods after being collected and shows the process of sorting the different kinds of recyclable materials.


Do Now U

Is it more important to you to reduce, reuse or recycle? #DoNowU3Rs


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To respond to the Do Now U, you can comment below or post your response on Twitter. Just be sure to include #DoNowU3Rs and @KQEDedspace in your posts.


Learn More About Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

In modern culture, the “three R’s”—reduce, reuse and recycle—are known as key techniques used in attempting to create a sustainable environment. However, in the mid-1950s, single-use items were touted for their convenience, and the era of “throwaway living” began. This lifestyle created a destructive societal model. People began producing excess waste by only using items once, creating a need to curb the amount of waste being produced. Conservation and environmental issues became more prominent, prompting the first national Earth Day on April 22, 1970, new laws and new awareness campaigns. Around this time, the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” was born. Citizens were encouraged to reduce the amount of items they were consuming, reuse some items and recycle others.

Conservationists argue that we cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings with as much waste as we produce, and that embracing sustainability is the best way to maintain modern culture. Through the conscious reduction of our consumption, we can preserve  resources by taking small steps that add up over time. Drinking water from reusable water bottles reduces use of plastic bottles. Taking shorter showers is one way to reduce consumption of water. Keeping thermostats at more modest levels or utilizing a clothesline for drying clothes are also appropriate ways to save energy. The reduce and reuse strategies are often the neglected parts of the three R’s.

Although personal choices are important, larger-scale business initiatives often focus on reduction of the use of natural resources as preferable to simple reuse or recycling. Sustainability-based practices in the corporate world save businesses quite a lot of money, and data shows that consumers prefer environmentally-friendly businesses. The main way that businesses utilize the three R’s is by reducing the use of resources. This topic also has global ramifications, as production-based countries suffer from higher air pollution rates than consumption-based countries. The U.S. Energy Information Administration believes that we have enough liquid fuel to meet our global energy demand through 2040, but finding new, eco-friendly energy sources and reducing energy usage is crucial for the future.

There are downsides to reducing, reusing, and recycling. In fact, this could even be a trade-off. Data is not clear that practicing the three R’s is better than consuming new goods. For example, some may think that continuing to drive an older car or buying a used car is a good illustration of reduce and reuse.  However, newer models of cars are more fuel efficient than their predecessors, thus buying new cars helps to reduce fuel usage. On the other hand, newer cars are often bigger and heavier, requiring more resources for their manufacturing and also leading to increased rates of road degradation. Reuse in general seems like a good strategy, but each circumstance is different. Continuous use of some plastic bottles can lead to health risks if they are made with cheap plastic or if harsh chemicals leach out of those containers with increased use.

Recycling center in Macon, GA
Recycling center in Macon, GA (Winter Overby)

The act of recycling is also expensive. The cost of recycling rises and the benefits decrease as cities transition from recycling just paper and metals to the practice of recycling plastic, food waste, and glass as well. Customers prefer single-stream recycling, but about 25% of items in those streams end up going to landfills anyway, cutting the profit margins of any municipalities using these strategies. Prices for recycled materials have plummeted as a result of lower oil prices and a decreased demand for them overseas. This has even caused some recycling companies to shut down and cancel plans for new technologies.

The ways that consumers interact with a myriad of items each day is complex, but increased awareness and analysis of one’s choices is increasingly important for a crowded planet. The following question can guide not only individual choices, but also larger discussions about our attitudes and behavior: Is it more important to you to reduce, reuse, or recycle?


More Resources

Audio: NPR
Reduce, Reuse, Remove the Cellophane: Recycling Demystified
Hear answers to some frequently asked questions about recycling, including explanations of certain decisions and debunking of different misconceptions.

Video: TED Talks
Arthur Potts Dawson: A Vision for Sustainable Restaurants
A popular chef shares his ideas for a series of restaurants that focus on sustainability.

Website: BBC
The 6 R’s
See a list of the traditional three R’s of sustainability: reduce, reuse and recycle; and, learn about three other “R’s” to consider: rethink, refuse and repair.


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KQED Do Now U is a biweekly activity in collaboration with SENCER. SENCER is a community of transformation that consists of educators and administrators in the higher and informal education sectors. SENCER aims to create an intelligent, educated, and empowered citizenry through advancing knowledge in the STEM fields and beyond. SENCER courses show students the direct connections between subject content and the real world issues they care about, and invite students to use these connections to solve today’s most pressing problems.

  • Moriah Roycroft

    Good work, team! I think teaching the general public of the value of reusing is more important in the long run than recycling.

    • Robert Duron

      Awareness needs to be spread on all three but I in the long run aslo believe reusing would be most beneficial to us all. There is just so much we can reuse, and by reusuing, we will be reducing and recycling simultaneously. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Kim Cuong Nguyen

      I agree that we should promote educational programs to the general public, in order to increase public awareness regarding reusing, reducing, and recycling. I think each one of these steps are equally important, but it differ with the material used. We should promote awareness regarding the negative health impacts attributed by climate change. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

      • Jasmine Johnson

        I agree that promoting sustainability education is important, but I believe this education should be focused on school-aged children because they are the next generation that can change things. By instilling the knowledge of the three Rs, they can successfully use the information they have been taught to reduce their impact on the environment and perpetuate positive environmental actions for the generations after them.

      • Carolyn Gurstein

        I agree that promoting awareness is super important and should be focused on more. Good point! #DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

      • bgirl272

        I also think it is important for more education on the issue but that the level of education offered right now aren’t good enough. People aren’t as empathetic as they should be and I think this is the most important thing to really make they change.

    • Bridget Trogden

      I think about this a lot with the idea of our throw-away economy. There are many things (especially e-waste: computers, printers, etc.) that are cheaper to buy new than to replace. In order to really cut down, we need incentives for more people learning how to fix things rather than just creating new ones.

      • Jessica Mitchell

        I agree with you about people learning how to fix problems rather than making new ones. I think it makes more sense to learn something that has already been made to make it grow so everyone will learn then to make something different because then nobody learns anything.

      • Yashar C.

        I definitely admire your stance! Your angle for solving this dilemma actually would help a lot. Do you think that mandatory machine repair classes in high school or higher education would be start?

        #DoNowU3Rs

        #DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

      • Carolyn Gurstein

        I think that is a really cool way to look at this. We need to develop more skills as humans to help save our environment. #DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

      • Tanya Arevalo

        I never thought about the idea of people fixing thing instead of throwing it away and buying it again. That would conserve so much waste of space and money. Every year they come out with new computers, iphones, tablets. People always want to have the most updated version, so where does the old technology go to? probably the trash. DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

      • Lauryn L.

        Agree. We produce new products every day and take advantage of the system. We need to learn that repaired things are just as good as new.

      • Jodi DeMassa

        I agree with you. We need to learn how to design things to be more efficient and less wasteful. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Elizabeth Tammi

      For sure! I went to elementary school in California, and the curriculum did a great job at incorporating all three of the ‘Rs’. As I grew up, knowing the benefits and information about the three methods has helped me be more environmentally conscious. I later moved to Florida, and now I’m Georgia, and I haven’t really seen many initiatives within my schools towards reusing or reducing, and only a minimal push for recycling. Regardless, this is an issue that should extend well beyond the classroom. It’s definitely another challenge to try to create educational programs, incentives, and awareness outside of an academic setting; still, it’s very important to spread the word about the more than just recycling. Perhaps some sort of advertising or informative signs could be posted in common public areas?

      • Megan Sanford

        I share a similar situation. I have never moved outside of the state of Georgia to see other states’/schools’ perspectives, but my high school did little work to promote sustainability. Sure, there were recycling bins here and there, but there was never any push. It was an optional sort of endeavor. As a college student at Mercer, I still see the same situation. I feel as though Mercer leaves sustainability up to personal preference rather than promoting it. I agree with you that spreading the word through advertising or informative signs would make a difference. Maybe even offering statistics concerning consumption and waste throughout the country/world? Facts (to me) are the best form of persuasion!

        • William Darragh

          There is a actually a Mercer group formed to promote sustainability. I cannot remember their name right now, it might be Greener Mercer, but don’t quote me on that one. I’m sure you could reach out and find them, they probably have flyers up. The last I heard about them, they are working to increase the number of recycling bins on campus. Specifically, they are trying to get recycling bins in the dorms for easy access for students. Given the current situation, I would except that we will only hear more about sustainability in the next few years Also if you are ever dissatisfied with the current level of promotion of sustainable living, you can always work within you clubs/groups to try and create initiatives. Also, maybe later you could do some statistics gathering for some kind of research project. Great to hear your perspective!

      • Tanya Arevalo

        What an amazing idea to start educating and incorporating environmental friendly practice at school. I think it’s an amazing thing that you grew up in a school that taught you to be environmental friendly. I did not have this same opportunity and I only remember our school participating in recycling plastic bottles. DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

      • Lauryn L.

        I know that when I was younger, like 3rd grade or so, we focused a lot on Reduce Reuse Recycle. I do believe that knowledge has stuck with me but it definitely not one of my prime thoughts when buying new things and throwing away old. I know on college campus’ now, they have separate trash cans for paper, plastic, and compost.

    • Megan Sanford

      When comparing the three R’s, I totally agree with you that reusing has the greatest effect in terms of sustainability. The act of reusing indirectly contributes to both reduction and recycling. By reusing, one chooses to reduce their amount of waste product and thus chooses to convert the potential for waste into something that is reusable.

    • bgirl272

      This is true. Too many people are throwing things out that can be reused. Although some things are very difficult to reuse, which is why I feel reducing is the most important.

      • Kenneth Peters

        Like any three-fold path, you profit far more by progressing equally on all fronts. Reusing is difficult, but the possibilities are endless, and limited only by an individuals knowledge/daring. #MyCMSTArgs

      • Jodi DeMassa

        It is difficult to resuse things, sometimes it’s unsanitary. If we can’t reuse everything, might as well reduce! #MyCMSTArgs

  • Kim Cuong Nguyen

    I think it depends on the resource. For example, I think plastic bottles and cans should be recycled. Water should be reused. Batteries should be reduced, since recycling them are harmful to the environment. Reduce, reuse, and recycle are great first steps in improving the environment, but there are ultimately more important steps that needs to be taken. First is through advocating and implementing programs that works to spread awareness regarding how electronic batteries are just being shipped to other developing countries to be recycled in ways that are harmful to the environment. Next, is to focus on investing in renewable energy sectors and enhance infrastructure. All in all, I think each one of these steps are important, but there are more steps that needs to be taken to improve environmental quality. http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/battery_recycling_as_a_business #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Robert Duron

      I agree with your standpoint here. I did not take into account the different resources and how each is harmful in a different way. I at first thought reusing was most important, but you have a really good point the battery situation. Awareness definitely needs to be spread on this idea. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Nicholas Feeley

      I agree they are good first steps. I think we need to move past these steps though. Developing new technology is vital right now. Soon it will be too late to replace the means by which we gather energy and clean up the damage we have done. I agree that we need to take more steps if our generation hopes to save the planet. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • hayleyhibbens

      I completely agree, it’s important that people are educated about what is waste and what can be reused! Because recycling the wrong things or reusing the wrong things can actually do more harm than it can good.

    • Rigoberto Lomas-Velazco

      You’re right there isn’t just one aspect of the the R’s that is more important than the rest. They are all equally important and should be used frequently to make sure we don’t end up dumping any more trash in the ocean.

    • Lauren Rhude

      I completely agree, I think we need to implement better education about the 3 R’s because much like the article said, many people neglect the reduce and reuse parts. For the 3 R’s to be as beneficial as it can, people need to become more educated about the importance of doing all three steps. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

  • Robert Duron

    All three apects of reduce, reuse, recycle are important, however i think the reusing part is the most vital. Reducing should alredy be taking place and people need to use what they are using to an extent. Of course we do have a lot more wants than needs but this isn’t as important reusing. There is just so much we can reuse that in a way it would alreay be reducing. From plastic bottles, to water conservation reusing would cut back on a lot of usage. With recycling, it is good but we aren’t exactly personally doing anything just pushing it away to someone else. If each individual takes action the society as a whole will benefit. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Kim Cuong Nguyen

      I agree with your point that reusing is a vital part in the process. I believe it is best to just implement all three because it depends on the type of material. Some materials are better recycled, whereas some materials are better reused. Materials that emit toxic chemicals when recycled should just be reduced, materials that are limited should be recycled, and materials that have long duration should be reused. I think it is best to start spreading awareness about how important each one is, in order to be more environmental friendly. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Nicholas Feeley

      I think reusing is important but also can be detrimental to the environment. I think it is a waste of time to reuse plastic since it is so damaging to the environment. I think it needs to be phased out entirely. I think reusing water and energy is very important though. Be able to achieve green renewable energy is going to be very important in the long run. Also with the low amounts of clean water in the world it is imperative we reuse what little water we have. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Jessica Lewis

      I completely agree! Reusing is so important because it keeps a lot of items that can’t be recycled from ending up in the landfills. Reusing also encourages lots of creativity, and can be lots of fun!

    • Alisha

      It’s for sure hard to pick one of the three! They all work together and have cause/effect on our environment. I think if everyone does all three, especially in moderation, it can go a long way. #MyCMSTArgs

  • Nicholas Feeley

    We are not going to solve the problems of pollution and climate change by simply reusing recycling and reducing our usage of items. It requires many more drastic changes that most people will not confront. The only way we can save the planet is going to be through the inventions of new technologies, the expansion of renewable energy, and through efforts to mend the damages we have already sewn upon the earth. Using plastic and recycling only mitigates the problem but does not address it. Biodegradable containers on the other hand will never end up in the ocean or on the side of the highway because they will degrade over time. Solar power and wind power can be harvested on a mass scale if we invest in it. This could power the whole planet if done efficiently and effectively. http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/09/22/we-could-power-the-entire-world-by-harnessing-solar-energy-from-1-of-the-sahara/#6e144b803e5b So when I am asked which of these three Rs is most important I think that none are most important. The problem with the current thoughts on these issues is that there is no three step solution or easy answer. Changing the planet for the better takes a lot of change, money, tie, and efforts that are going to face extreme opposition. We shouldn’t teach our kids there is a simple plan to address this problem because it will soon be the greatest problem the human race has ever had to face. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Rigoberto Lomas-Velazco

      When it comes to global warming there are still many people that deny it and wont face the facts. There are also those that are wary of it but feel like there is no rush to do something about global warming. The truth is we are very near the point of no return and very soon we won’t be able to fix the issues with our climate.

      • Winter Overby

        This is very true, and I believe your point emphasizes the idea that now more than ever, it is important to embrace the idea of Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling.

      • Katie Henderson

        I agree with your point. It seems that most people will ignore and push problems away until we cannot deal with them anymore. There needs to be better education about what we are doing to our planet and the consequences that will come from our actions. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Lindsey Smallwood

      Those are some great points! Thank you so much for the input, we really appreciate it (especially from a perspective we didn’t necessarily consider).

    • Emily Robertson

      You make a great point; there’s so many things we could be doing to eliminate the problem at the source. Switching to renewable energy and biodegradable products, however, doesn’t get rid of the problem we already have. The three R’s help to cut down on the amount of damage we do to the environment with what we’re using right now, so they’re necessary because of the way we currently do things. I do agree with you, though. We definitely need to be looking towards a more sustainable future.

    • Nidhi Shashidhara

      I understand what you are saying and I definitely agree. Dealing with the problem of waste goes well beyond the three Rs but it definitely is a start. Using the three Rs as part of elementary school curriculum gets individuals thinking about the environment at an early age. We’ve already seen the effects with the current generation of youth who have a higher percent of their population caring about the environment than previous generations. Continuing to talk about issues of waste as early as elementary schools and encouraging people to reduce reuse and recycle will get people interested in the issue, hopefully pushing them to dwellers deeper into the topics. I know personally, a lot of my friends enjoy reading articles and learning about new technology that can help save the environment and a lot of research projects amongst current collegiate deal with environmental issues in some way, with environmental engineering, business, studies, and science becoming fast growing majors.

    • Travis Meeks

      I very much enjoy this line of thought, that pollution and climate change are far to complex to solve alone with the three Rs discussed here; however, I do believe that this is not what is trying to be accomplished by this article. The three Rs are not an attempt to tackle a major problem with a simplistic approach, but another step towards the complex solution we seek.

  • Dr. Pam Brewer

    Great post you all. There is more information here than I can digest in one session. You might want to push some of the resources you’ve listed out individually over the short term! You have acknowledged the complexities of sustainability, and they are many. I would love to see Georgia move forward in sustainability. I wonder if there are any approaches that would make Macon/Mercer greener while providing economic benefits to the community?

  • hayleyhibbens

    All three options, reduce, reuse, and recycle, are important, but if I had to pick one I would say that reduce is the most important. If we weren’t using up some many resources in the first place, then there wouldn’t be so much to reuse and recycle. People need to be more aware of how much waste they are accumulating and how much resources they use each day. If everyone was more aware, we’d be in a much better place as far as our waste goes. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Lauren Rhude

      I agree, I also chose reduce. I agree with you when you say people need to be more aware of the resources they are using. I think people just aren’t as educated on the issue as they should be because if they were, most people would be completing all three steps rather than forgetting about reducing and reusing. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

  • Rigoberto Lomas-Velazco

    All choices are very important, but reusing is the most important in my opinion. While there is a lot of trash that we are recycling, there is still much more trash that we don’t. it’s because of that trash that we have landfills piling up with non reusable materials. We need to make sure that we limit ourselves in how many items we use that aren’t reusable so that we can reduce our carbon footprints.

    • Winter Overby

      The concept of reducing non-reusable items offers an excellent additional perspective! I definitely also agree that it is critical to understand the importance of our carbon footprints and to take steps to reduce them.

    • Tucker Buffington

      While I do think reusing is important, I also believe it’s one of the hardest R’s to consistently perform. This is for a number of reasons. First, it’s hard to reuse items like water bottles and silverware for more than a limited amount of time. It gets to a point where things get too dirty to even clean or too worn down to reuse again. Also, the reuse of items spreads germs and illness at a quicker rate. Finally, people who are uneducated about the items that are acceptable to reuse could easily be reusing items that are bad for the environment. So, while reusing is important and while it can be done, I do think it is the hardest R to continuously fulfill. Nonetheless, all three R’s are extremely important and should be practiced regularly!

      • Travis Meeks

        This is one of the more valid points I’ve seen written about reuse of materials; the spread of disease. While my personal belief is that reusing items is one of the more practical “R”s, it is, as you said, the hardest to consistently perform. The question is, what can we do about it? General education courses on the re-usability of items and how to properly clean them only go so far.

      • Sage Carson

        I understand how reusing can be seen as unsanitary and not as safe as the other methods. However, food and drink containers are not the only items that can be reused. Boxes such as shoes boxes and shipping boxes can be reused in arts and craft projects or reused for storage. Scraps of fabric can be used to make blankets or doll clothing. I personally reuse paper for doing scrap work for my calculus and chemistry classes. When practicing the 3R’s, we must think outside the box and use creativity to help make an impact.

  • Lauren Rhude

    I would say all three are equally important but if I had to pick one I would pick reducing. I personally think reusing and recycling are an after the math solution while as reducing is a solution for the problem before it even becomes a problem, if that makes sense. If we reduce, we have less trash and recyclables in general which helps the problem of over using our resources. Also I think people just need to be aware of how much trash they actually have and how much of that can be reused and recycled. Much like the article said, many people neglect the reduce and reuse part of the 3 R’s. If we became more aware of how to accomplish all 3, we would be much better off. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Lindsey Smallwood

      Those are some great points!! Thank you so much for your input. I think I agree, if pressed to choose just one to promote ivtoo would probably pick reducing, as you said it targets the problem at its source. 🙂

    • Katie Henderson

      I agree that reducing is the most important of the 3 R’s. People do not take into account how much trash they are using during their life time. If we all started being cautious about it from the day we are born, there would be much less trash that we have to deal with. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Nidhi Shashidhara

      I agree that reducing is the most important. We waste so much as an individual that it adds up more than we realize. I definitely think the issue here is that people think others are doing enough so if they consume more then normal, it gets balanced out. I know when I was apart of a recycling initiative in my high school called the Bottle Project, a lot of people did not pay attention to the type of packaging, what they were throwing away, or other things because they assumed everyone else was doing it so if they didn’t? It would still be ok.

      • Brianna Levin

        I agree that many people don’t seem to feel a personal responsibility for protecting our environment. In my psychology class a couple of years ago, we talked about the Bystander Effect, how people are less likely to stand up for others in situations where there are a lot of other people present, since they believe that other people will fix the problem. Explaining how environmental changes will directly impact people’s futures may help them take responsibility for protecting our planet. I also agree that reducing is more important than recycling or reusing.

    • Elizabeth Tammi

      I’m also hesitant to pin down one R as the most important, but as you said, reducing has the most evidence for its importance. Your math analogy makes perfect sense– recycling and reusing certainly are acts that seek to reverse previous actions. If those previous actions aren’t big in the first place, less work will need to be done in the long run, and the environment is more positively impacted. Still, all three are undeniably important and should be exercised regularly.

    • marjon blount

      From what I understand, All three R’s seem to be vital to our environment, I personally think being able to reduce would be more beneficial as it prevents there being a need to have to recycle. The less we use the less we will have to recycle. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

  • Katie Henderson

    I think that the most important R’s are reduce and reuse. After watching the video its eye opening to see how much recyclable trash is sent to the recycle center at pier 96 in San Francisco. If everyone that contributed to that pile were to do little things like using reusable water bottles and shopping bags, there would be a huge chunk of that recycling already gone. The machines and people working at pier 96 would have less trash to sort through and the process would be a lot easier and efficient. I think that we all need to contribute in some way by reusing, reducing, or recycling. Its essential to keep the environment that we live in, clean and safe. Heres a website that shows all the places you can go to recycle in the state of California. http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/recycle/Maps/Default.htm #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Alisha

      I agree! The video was very eye-opening in learning about recycling and the impacts it has. It’s one of those little things that people don’t think about that actually goes a long way. #MyCMSTArgs

  • Brianna Levin

    You all did a great job with this article! The extra links you provided at the end were helpful in providing other perspectives on protecting the environment. I was especially interested in the TED talk about waste in restaurants. My mom works in the food industry, and she partnered with Feeding America to encourage food companies to donate extra products to hungry people around the US. Reusing excess products from developed nations to help developing countries as well as people with fewer resources in developed countries could solve multiple global issues at the same time and could help people understand the significance of sustainability.

    • Bridget Trogden

      Feeding America is a great group! One of our junior service scholars (Emily Hatchett) has been exploring food reclamation as a possibility for her senior project.

  • Alisha

    All three of these are important little things that we can all day that go a long way. There are certain times when it’s better to reduce, certain products that are better to reuse, etc. There is no better “R” since they all work together and separately to do different things (https://salvagespace.com/blog/importance-of-the-3-rs-reduce-reuse-recycle/). A lot of people don’t even do the “little things” so before we can conquer the big ones, we have got to put our focus and energy on increasing awareness of how to be sustainable. #MyCMSTArgs

  • Jasmine Johnson

    In comparing the three R’s, I believe reducing is most important. Thousands of pounds of waste are produced just because people fail to use everything they buy. By reducing the amount of resources used, we could limit the total amount of waste we produce, and limit our reliance on landfills.

    • Karla

      I agree that we often buy more of things than we actually use. Especially products that come in plastic packaging. Plastic can be recycled but never really wears down into other materials. If we began exploring other things that we could use instead of plastic we would be reducing so much waste #MyCMSTArgs

    • Nishi Patel

      I agree that reducing is the most effective method, in that it would decrease the overall amount to materials just out in the world especially those that are not really needed. By not having as much stuff to throw away we automatically decrease the overall amount that is thrown away. In a way, recycling and reusing are facilitations of reducing products.

  • Julia Scher

    This was a great article! I especially appreciated the background information explaining how the era of single-use consumerism began in the 1950s. I definitely think that we are making necessary steps towards reducing our waste, but I believe we need a more widespread concern over this issue. Many people disregard the environment in their daily lives when there are simple steps we can all take towards reducing our impact.

    • Karla

      I agree that we are making some steps towards reducing our waste, and that their needs to be more informative education and facts relayed to our society about things we can do to hep our environment.

    • Diana Avila

      I think that a good way for providing effecting change is having for example the nominees for this election mention global warming. Honestly if it’s not an issue to them it’s not an issue to us, and that’s mostly because people aren’t educated or they just don’t believe in global warming. It’s a shame that not enough people recognize the problem, so before we start actual change we need to increase awareness, I believe. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Jessica Mitchell

      I agree with making a more widespread concern over these issues. A lot of people ignore the fact that this is what we need to do. They ignore it because they believe it is a lot of time and that they don’t have time to make these changes.

  • Karla

    I think that reusing, and reducing are most important. We have begun taking a deeper look on how we are effecting our environment, and now we are becoming more aware of the stuff that we are wasting. Little changes like using reusable water bottle, and reusable bags have made a big difference. Especially in businesses where it is encouraged to bring your own water bottles. Ive even seen places that promote bringing in your own utensils. One of my club’s on campus has recently teamed up with http://www.5gyres.org organization which encourages the education of 4th graders specifically about plastic pollution. Not only do they focus on education they also give ways in which you could reduce the use of wastes in your life. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Diana Avila

      I agree as well, recycling is often not done enough or greatly to impact, but reducing and reusing could make a difference. It’s amazing I have never heard of a place that bring their own utensils! It’s also really good to see that bigger schools are creating a change by providing information to the younger generation. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Jack Xhemali

      I like the idea of more places promoting bringing their own water bottles! In both my college and old high school, we had these water fountains where I could press a button and it’d fill up my water bottle without trying to awkwardly fill up my water bottle most of the way in a normal water fountain. If we had more of those, then people would feel more encouraged to bring water bottles.

    • Anna Ingram

      I agree that reusing and reducing are the most important, especially since the cost to recycle can be so high. At my high school, there was a project called Ban the Bottle. Plastic water bottles were not sold in the cafeteria or vending machines, and they were not allowed on campus. Instead, water bottle filling stations were placed throughout campus. Each person brought a water bottle from home they could refill each day. Starting this campaign showed everyone the need to reuse and reduce because no one knew how much plastic was wasted from water bottles alone. The initiative was the first time many students became aware of the problem.

  • Diana Avila

    I think it’s very hard for someone to chose one of the “R’s”, but personally i’d say that I reuse more out of recycling and reducing. Because reducing is so broad, I guess some of the thing I do day to day often times don’t seem like much. With that I do take shorter showers, stop the water from running when brushing or washing dishes, but I admit I’m still going to use a washer and dryer. As for recycling, the main and only thing I steer toward is recycling water bottles, and maybe trash bags; for example the ones that are provided by a grocery store. Lastly i tend to reuse plastic water bottles, but now has been replaced by a re-useable water bottle. Often times i’ll reuse toilet paper roles, for arts in crafts in the class I work with, to simply refilling the hand soap with a bigger jar. Over all, I think we all do things differently and I’d like to further improve the ways of the environment, that being that reducing would be the most important “R”. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Sage Carson

      I can relate to wanting to practice reducing, but like you said, it’s easier said than done. So instead of reducing, I focus on recycling and reusing items. These two ways are both easier to see and measure in my opinion. Most of my dorm decorations are old cans covered in tape, canvases covered in old scraps of fabric, and items from Goodwill that I’ve refurbished. For younger generations, art and creative expression is a great way to start learning how to reuse. It’s a fun and easy way to make a difference. Similarly, I have practiced recycling while in school. Unfortunately, Mercer does not have a lot of recycling bins on campus, so it is like a scavenger hunt trying to find them. What I do is collect my recyclable waste in a bag next to my trash can, and then once it is full, I dispose of it all at once. Like you, I focus on water bottles as they are easiest to collect and recycle, but I try and make an effort to recycle as many items as I can.

  • Jack Xhemali

    I really liked the article! I think one of the biggest problems is just the sheer volume of stuff that we use. It is really difficult to recycle or reuse when there’s such a large amount of everything available. It tends to make recycling seem like a distant problem regardless of all PR behind it. If we were able to simply reduce the amount of electricity, food, or plastic society produces, it’ll make recycling and reusing more economically feasible because of the largely reduced trash output.

    • Sarah Tuttle

      You make an interesting point. If we consume such a large amount, it may make any reusing and recycling ineffective by simply outweighing the benefits of those efforts. This is exacerbated by the massive amount of resources used to produce these items. You certainly make a good argument for reducing, but I also think reusing leads to reduction, so it is difficult to pinpoint a specific aspect of the three R’s that is most important.

  • Tucker Buffington

    What a wonderfully written article! Like many of you agree, this discussion does need to be brought up more both in school systems and in everyday communication between people. I personally think that when comparing the three R’s, reducing has the greatest potential to have the greatest effect on the environment. Although recycling and reusing both have their benefits, I think reducing the amount of waste is the best way to begin to conserve and protect our environment today. Once people start reducing their waste, then maybe it will be easier for them to start reusing and recycling. Overall, you all did a fantastic job writing this article. I especially loved the extra links you provided at the end. It definitely raised some questions that I’m interested to see if we can find out this semester.

    • Julia Scher

      I definitely agree that this topic needs to be brought up more. There are simple steps that we could be taking each day to promote conservation, and it would be much easier to do this if it were taught beginning at a young age. I also agree that reducing is the best place to start, as it makes the other two Rs less necessary. It also makes people more aware of the amount of waste they produce just in their daily lives.

    • Katelyn West

      The MU Honor’s Program thanks you for you compliments and your input! I agree with you that the 3 R’s need to be advocated for more and that once we reduce our waste, we can manage the rest of the waste more efficiently.

  • Christian Winds

    To answer the article’s question, I would say that no one of the three “R’s” is definitively the most important “R,” as each “R” has a potential of benefiting the environment in different ways, and the contexts of each “R” can overlap with the remaining “R’s,” giving importance to each of the three concepts. This article did bring to my attention ways in which an “R” could be followed in a form less helpful or even potentially harmful to the environment, however – in particular, I noticed this article’s example about old and new vehicle use. Each usage idea – continuing to use older vehicles and using newer vehicles – has its own drawbacks while also following one of the three “R’s.” These drawbacks suggest that it may be possible for a person to follow one of the three “R’s,” but in a context that does little to truly help the environment. Ultimately, the true extent of the three “R’s” assistance to our environment appears to greatly relate to applying the three “R’s” in appropriate contexts, as an “R” that has a large helpful effect in one circumstance may have little effect or detrimental effects in a different situation.

    • Sarah Tuttle

      You make a great point regarding the importance of appropriate applications of the three R’s. While using any of the three is certainly better than using none, we would reach sustainability goals much more efficiently by focusing on teaching better judgment, and promoting a better understanding of when to use which method, rather than by blindly following a catchy phrase. We need to practice mindful consumption, in which we make conscience decisions about what we consume as well as what we do with those products when we are done.

  • Christian Winds

    Some helpful applications of the three “R’s” may still be “undiscovered,” in a sense. Some types of waste currently regarded as un-reusable or un-recyclable may actually have a way of being reused or recycled, preventing environmental harm. Other unconsidered forms of reduction may exist, as well. More potentials for each of the three “R’s” may birth as new technology is created – possibilities helping the environment may be realized if the three “R’s” are considered during new technology’s creation.

  • Anna Ingram

    The article covers the topics of the three R’s very well, showing the benefits and consequences of each. I believe reduce, reuse, and recycle are all important things to follow. The difficult part is that most people are not informed on the best ways to do so. In some cases, people’s misconceptions on how to fix the problem are worse off for the environment. Reducing appears to be the easiest one to follow of the three R’s. There are plenty of everyday things we can reduce using such as shorter showers for less water, turning the lights off when we leave to room to save energy, using reusable water bottles to cut down on the plastic intake, and carpooling to save on the amount of gas used.

    • marjon blount

      I agree with your stance of this issue. I do not believe one of the three R’s are more important than the other. I found an article that explains that they are all important but why reducing would be the most benificial https://signature103.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/recycle-reduce-reuse-which-is-the-most-important/. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Katelyn West

      MU Honor’s thanks you for your compliment! You are definitely right when it comes to people being misinformed about the best ways to take advantage of the 3 R’s. What do you think would be a better way to inform people about the correct ways?

  • William Darragh

    The BBC article about the 6 R’s brings up 3 important R’s that are important not to forget: rethink, refuse and repair. Without rethinking, we would still be creating problems that we are bandaging by reducing, reusing, and recycling. By rethinking, we can create new ways to solve problems so we do not need to focus so much on reducing the damage already done. As for refusing, it is essential to never accept something that is wrong. The only way that we can improve is by refusing to stop allowing needless waste to occur. The last forgotten R, repair, is important because it offers a more sustainable solution to recycling. Why throw a product to waste when it can be repaired? Again, I think learning about the 6 R’s is an interesting and more well-rounded approach to the problem of sustainability.

    • Katelyn West

      Wow, I’ve never heard about the 6 R’s, only the 3 R’s. That’s is a great idea though. Rethinking can allow for new and improved ideas about how to reduce and handle waste. Repairing is a good idea, but once a product reaches past a certain age or certain problem, it is a lot easier and cheaper to just replace than repair.

  • marjon blount

    I personally have never been an advocate for reducing, recycling, or reducing. To answer the question i don’t think any one is more important to the other because they all go hand and hand and are all important. I believe if we were to be advocates of all 3 R’s we would be able to commit to a more sustainable planet, to only better ourselves and insure we are able to provide for the future so that are children may thrive. If i were to choose one it would definitely be to reuse simply because it reduce and lessen the amount we have to recycle because we are ultimately recycling if we can reuse in our everyday activities. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3R

    • Katelyn West

      That’s interesting that you have never advocated for the 3 R’s, especially since many people, governments, and schools are pushing for it. But you definitely have a point about them all going hand in hand!

    • Keaton Hill

      I can definitely relate to this because up until I became a young adult and started college, I didn’t really pay attention to this issue, let alone advocate for it. But as time has gone on I find that I value all 3 R’s than I used to while growing up. I think that part of this is a failure on part of children’s education, which is something the government should act on to change. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

  • Jessica Mitchell

    In my opinion I believe that all three are very important. To reduce, reuse and recycle it is making our economy a little bit better. By recycling I think we can reuse those things. I know a school that was made all out of recyclables. And it saved energy and didn’t use a lot of water. Reusing is probably better in my opinion because it is better to reuse something that could make a good purpose. It is better for the earth and if it still has use for something else the smart thing to do would be to reuse it.

    • Katelyn West

      That’s really neat that a school has been made out of recyclables. However, was the cost to build and maintain the school more than a regular school would be? It sounds like a great idea, but most people might not go for it since it would more than likely be more expensive.

    • Yashar C.

      Good comment! I made the same argument. In the end of the day, they all contribute in the condition of our planet’s cleanliness. Tending to all three would greatly reduce the pollution within our environment, so one is not more important than the other.

      #DoNowU3Rs #DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

  • Nishi Patel

    It is obvious that all three of the R’s are important to practice as methods of sustaining the environment; however, in the long run, reducing seems to be the most beneficial. Recycling or reusing products does not address the fact that an overwhelming amount to products are there to be used. Reducing demand would eventually reduce production which would mean there are less items out there to be used only once and possibly not recycled.

    • Aditi Dave

      I agree that spreading awareness about reducing is important, especially when more wastes from a bigger population accumulate beyond the processing rate. These wastes could potentially pollute the environment and eventually runoff into the ecosystem and resources humans need to survive. Reducing the wastes could eliminate that possibility and lead to a more sustainable society.

  • Aditi Dave

    This article did a good job on describing the importance as well as the implications of the three R’s on society! Although the three R’s combined are factors that help create a more sustainable society, I personally believe reduction should be emphasized in environmental sustainability. Landfills and wastes of single-use items involve land, energy, and expenses needed to store and process the wastes. With even more wastes produced with a larger population, it is much harder to maintain waste facilities and the wastes that accumulate. These accumulated wastes can also pollute the environment and runoff into other locations. However, if we reduce the amount of items we throw away, we are able to build a more efficient community where land is clear and not polluted and energy is conserved from waste sanitation and processing. Although society is still transitioning in the efforts to promote conservation and reduce waste pileup, there is still a lot of work to be done with improving the three R’s. As innovators and thinkers rise up from the new generation, we will begin to see new ways we can improve each R through science and spreading awareness to the public!

  • Yashar C.

    The equal distribution of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste should be in our nation’s top interest. Each should receive the same level of attention from the U.S., because they all contribute to the cleanliness of our environment. http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/various-recycling-facts.php . Finding a way to produce utilitarian purpose from waste, however, seems like the most difficult aspect. Waste that can not be reused for utilitarian purposes take up too much space, which pollutes the Earth. I’m no expert, but I suppose the solution could possibly be revealed within the material of the waste. Producing certain disposables made of biodegradable materials could help. Then again, I’m not entirely sure. (don’t judge I tried, fam.) #DoNowU3Rs

    #DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

    • Keaton Hill

      I agree with you on this. All three steps are equally important, and our country should really start listening to that. Our nation needs adopt policies that support this and it needs to increase the effort to inform people. I think that America’s slacking on this issue has already done a significant amount of harm, and the situation could get worse if our country doesn’t start prioritizing these kinds of issues. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

  • Carolyn Gurstein

    I think the value of reusing is more important then the other two because when you reuse items you are saving money and saving materials. I do think they’re other values that weren’t mentioned in the article that are mentioned here http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/design/resistantmaterials/designsocialrev9.shtml that should be considered too. Also, when I talk about reusing I mean reusing materials for other things not just the original object. That way we can save resources. #DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

  • Tanya Arevalo

    I like this week’s article because it talks about how taking small actions can make a big impact on the long run. I often times try to contribute my part by bringing my own bags into stores, reusing my Klean Kanteen instead of using plastic bottles. I think if everyone did their part to contribute than we can help conserve the plant but a lot of people don’t do their part to contribute. I work at target and we charge for paper bags. I often hear the guest complain about how much of inconvenience it is for them to bring there own bag, but the big inconvenience are people that do not contribute on help conserve our planet. I believe this should be a policy that should be enforced nation wide not just in Chico. DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs

    • Saraya Rider

      I agree with what you’re saying about the bag situations. A lot of people complain about the plastic bag situation but I believe that it is one of the easiest ways to do the three Rs.

  • Keaton Hill

    I don’t really think that any single one of those three steps is more important than the other to me. I believe that they are all equally important steps to helping save the environment and in helping us be more efficient with the material items we take for granted and use every day. Without all three of these steps, there could be a substantial amount of harm done to the environment, and our sustainability would be very poor compared to how it is now. It is very difficult to try and teach this lesson to an increasingly materialistic society, but I think that if we start younger and really hammer down the point in kids’ minds that these three steps are essential to a healthy environment, then we can definitely make a difference. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Saraya Rider

      I completely agree with your statement. I believe that all three of these steps are necessary to changing the world. In addition to this, I agree that it should start to be hammered into all kids’ minds. That being said, only focusing on one would not have as large of an impact. Especially since with all three you can using the teaching techniques such as the three Rs song.

    • Sammy Johnson, Jr.

      I completely agree the environment would be worse than it is if we thought of any of these more important than the others. With the youth learning about these processes early we could make the environment even better. #MyCMSTArgs

  • Saraya Rider

    I think that reducing, reusing, and recycling should be a focus in everyone’s life. I do not think one of the three R’s is more important than the others though. It is important to do all three of them equally as much. People cannot be expected to just reduce, just reuse, or just recycle because only focusing on one would not solve the other problems at all. This link takes you to a song to help you to remember to do all three. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSM2riAEX4U
    #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

    • Sammy Johnson, Jr.

      I absolutely agree none of the three R’s are more important than the others. All of them should be used equally. #MyCMSTArgs

  • K. Smith

    I think it is important to participate in all three. People should be doing anything and everything possible to try to create and maintain a sustainable environment. According to the National Geographic channel, http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/before-the-flood/, where our world is at now is all controlled by humans. There has even been talk about having household CO2 taxes to help people become more aware of the impact they are having. Realistically, Americans are comfortable with being able to run down to the store and getting their groceries put into plastic bags – but if we can push people to recycle and reuse certain items, hopefully it will lead to reduces the use of mainly plastic items. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowU3Rs

  • bgirl272

    To me I think reducing is the most important. If we didn’t use as much straight from the beginning we would be better off. Recycling and reusing takes a lot of work, but if we are just conscious of our use in the first place we have less to reuse and recycle in general. While the other options are useful, reducing is a lot easier in my opinion because we live relatively gluttonous lives in general in my opinion. http://www.environment.gov.sk.ca/ReducingWaste

  • Whamadoodle

    Reusing and reducing is important, but recycling is most important.

    The reason for this is that (speaking anecdotally, but I think I speak for many) most of the supplies I buy are food, which you can’t buy in big enough bulk to avoid simply needing more of it next week or next month. You will always need packaging to store food, and this should be recyclable or compostable.

  • Lauryn L.

    I think it is best to Reuse. There are many inventions and systems that have allowed us to reuse products. If we reuse water by recycling it and reuse paper by recycling it, we will have an endless supply. I think reduce is the hardest for people to comprehend because in the United States we are very privileged in our resources. We should promote education for these to our younger generations because it is important that we treat our Earth like home.

  • Kenneth Peters

    Um…why not all three in unison. Reduce what we use (by taking every manufacturer who designs their product around forced obsolescence to task, drastically cut the amount of “disposable” versions of products that exist, promote religious frugality rather then consumerism, etc.) Reuse whenever, wherever you can (get creative, even if its art, its still serving a positive purpose) and actually look into efficient methods of recycling. Japans a good buddy to copy notes off of for that.
    https://www.tofugu.com/japan/garbage-in-japan/
    Beyond that, our culture towards this needs a rework, lets all stop thinking that were hot shit because we have the latest and greatest of everything, when frankly its more impressive to have something that shouldn’t work kept operational because of your will and know-how.
    #DoNowU3Rs #MyCMSTArgs #DontShitWhereYouEat

  • Sammy Johnson, Jr.

    I don’t think any of these processes have a greater importance than the others. They all are efficient ways of helping the environment, and in a way none of these processes can coexist without the others. #MyCMSTArgs

  • Jodi DeMassa

    I think that it’s the most important to recycle. We throw away too much plastic, which has a horrible effect on the environment and the ecosystem–poisoning the whole system with plastic and ruining lives. We need to sort them out, reuse that plastic for other means. In the meantime, we should also reduce the amount of packaged goods we buy. Here’s how we can reduce the use of plastic we buy. http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/waste-reduction-tips/tips-to-use-less-plastic.html #MyCMSTArgs

  • lucas

    Good Job! in my personal opinion i believe that it is more important to recycle because we can use the object again and again.
    We can make different things with plastic for example.

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