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Our Day-to-Day Living Practices

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Do without

Eleanor Roosevelt's words can still help us find our way as we make a thousand decisions in the course of a day. Have you ever played the Extreme-Reuse Game? Here's how it goes: How many times can you use the same piece of aluminum foil? How often can you clean and reuse a single vegetable bag at the grocery store? Can you cause your living companion who puts his or her nose in the bag to exclaim, "Yech! Enough!" How many scribbled reminder notes can you get on one piece of paper before you confuse your doctor's appointment with your hot date?

We all know the usual, and extremely important, energy-saving stuff: use compact fluorescent light bulbs, turn `em off when you leave the room, turn down the heat, wear a sweater. There is now a wealth of earth-friendly products we can buy. For example, toilet paper, Kleenex, other paper products. You can actually get a completely adequate wipe using 1-ply toilet paper, and save trees while you're at it. (Consumers who purchased recycled paper products from one company saved 27,000 living trees, 70,000 cu. ft. of landfill, and 9.8 million gallons of water in one year.)

We've all been grateful on occasion for the readily available bottled water when we're having a big thirst away from home. But a recent study gives alarming statistics about the use of bottled water: its consumption has doubled in the last 6 years! This translates into massive costs in packaging the water using petrochemicals, and in transportation to marketplaces. The demand for bottled water in America alone requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 100,000 US cars for a year. The waste is also staggering, and takes up to 1000 years to degrade. A lot of times we could fill up one of those empties and put it in our car or purse to carry with us and avoid having to buy and throw away that bottle. Remember the days when you went to a meeting and there were glasses and a jug of water on the table?

Coffee lovers can get a dime off their latte at Starbucks when they bring their own cup.

It's easy to put a small drugstore purchase in your purse instead of accepting the bag the clerk is quick to grab for you. Or just get in the habit of carrying a cloth bag when you go out.

There is another aspect of recycling that has received a lot less attention. It has become increasingly clear that manufacturers are going to have to begin building products that have recycling and re-use of components designed into them as standard features. Many companies actually use recycled materials in their final products.

We can all recycle diligently, but it especially important to realize that this practice is symbolic of how we need to view our impact on this planet: how to be mindful of exactly what resources we use in our daily activities, and how to minimize waste.

It is up to us to simply be aware of our daily actions; use less, waste less, recycle more, and encourage producers to do the same. In the Reuse / Recycle Game, you can be creative, have fun and everyone wins, especially the Earth.

Now What? Use these resources to learn more and work for change: