Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We all use a variety of materials including plastics, glass, paper products and food. This creates waste. I know, we don’t like to think about it. However, all of this has to go somewhere. This destination could be a landfill, or incineration plant. But the unfortunate truth is much of our waste leaves the system to end up on roadsides, in our streams and waterways, in the ocean, or in the atmosphere if it is burned. The effects on our State’s food production and recreational potential can be devastating; costing thousands of dollars to attempt at fixing the contamination problem. The good news? The more we can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle the less we will harm our environment.


The most important of the 3 R’s is reducing the amount of material consumed in the first place. We can do this by being careful about what we buy; paying close attention to how it is packaged.

Here are some tips:

  • Think about taking reusable bags while shopping over the store supplied paper or plastic. Buying items in bulk can also reduce the amount of packaging.
  • Instead of buying a new book – borrow a copy from your local library.
  • Use a travel mug instead of buying coffee in a paper cup or buying bottled water. Not only will you be reducing your waste, but you’ll look like a regular at the café (impressive!).
  • It can be very fulfilling to repair our broken items. Instead of buying new, why not refurbish? It will cut your waste significantly and heighten your sense of ownership. There are many places within the county and nearby that repair items, whether they be power equipment, clothing, or other items.


The second step to lowering our waste is Reusing items. If you’re looking to downsize or update your wardrobe you shouldn’t have to throw perfectly usable clothes into the trash. One can also buy used items from organizations, at tag sales, or by perusing online and newspaper classifieds.

Bennington County has several organizations that can take used items, including Goodwill Industries. It is also possible to purchase and sell items online through Craig’s List or using Front Porch Forum. Some of the transfer stations have swap shops where you can trade usable items with others, and books can be donated to area libraries.


The final step to waste reduction is Recycling. This involves collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment by:

  • Reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and/or incinerators
  • Conserving natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals that would otherwise be extracted to create goods
  • Saving energy
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
  • Creating well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries
  • Check out how you can recycle certain items here.